Birthing…

I forgot about this kick-ass picture Jennifer Firestone and I posed for some year or so ago (Well, mostly she’s kick ass and daring while I ride her coattails here!). That is, I forgot until I got word of her new book, HOLIDAY. Then, I thought that celebrating this book would also be a means to showcase the above.

But don’t let the photo override Firestone’s new bliss! Eileen Myles writes,

“Jennifer Firestone’s Holiday makes big sense to me. It make me think largely about why I like anyone’s writing – and sometimes it’s as simple as this: I like its physicality. I like its jumps. Holiday is extremely private, extremely active. It’s notebooky in the best sense of the word because I feel privileged to get these fractured views of how Jennifer Firestone moves around the world. Her style at times is telegraphic (and insatiable) like Ginsberg. Let me say Gail Scott and Ginsberg. Also why do we bother reading. Why do we want to trail around in anyone’s else’s mind at all. Jennifer asks:

‘Is it worth
going down these steps
are the bottom rooms worth it?’

I say yeah. Enthusiastically yes.”
—Eileen Myles

I’d say she’s right on the money, and here’s a poem to further tempt you to it:

OR

Away it is creeping to find out what to do

It tunnels to a home that burns at the tip

Art barely gave

Sand was vast

All vacations fused

Red flags disappeared

There was wheat and fog

–Jennifer Firestone, HOLIDAY

Where’s the Mommy?

A Few Things I Learned During My Stay in the Hospital

1. Though I was in a “good” hospital, the industry, in all forms, aggressively seeks ways to cut corners for profit. The worst manifestation of these “ethics” include under-staffing. This made for decent-but-frustrated nurses and not enough support staff for patients. I have an anecdote about my 92-year-old roommate that involves her sitting on a commode with her back bare for 45 minutes during the day last Saturday, which is only one miserable example of what I witness (and tried to call attention to). Don’t get me wrong – the staff is quite willing but simply overstretched.

2. Many doctors examined and tested me, including an endocrinologist, neurologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, as well as a doctor who “oversaw” the search for a diagnosis. The ultimate lesson I learned is an old adage, “One hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.” I advocated for myself, made sure records and results were reported to each, scheduled tests, etc, but still, I seemed to be of no interest when my results proved nothing noteworthy to each single doc. One neurologist jokingly put it best, “Your MRI and neck scan are remarkably unremarkable. We would have liked you to provide us with something of interest.” And they vanished into the ether.

3. The ultimate lesson to be gleaned from number two is that getting old must be very scary with this health care industry “looking” after you. I met with much resistance when advocating for myself. The preferred patient involvement is none. Zilch. Passivity. Unquestioning. Gratitude wasn’t even expected.

I had four roommates throughout my stay (one at a time), all who were over the age of 70. Their doctors came in and spoke with each, on average, for about thirty seconds. The last one was a retired nurse. I imagined she would at least, out of respect as a fellow practitioner in the field, be treated more considerately by her primary physician. In fact, she received the worst attention I witnessed. Her doctor left after a fifteen second ramble spoken well below her hearing level, and she told me how scared and confused she was. She explained that in his office he tells more dirty jokes than dealing with her health. She explained that she would prefer to go home and die with her family than to die in the hospital after a visit like that. She was, not so incidentally, an intelligent woman who had immigrated from Denmark in her twenties and spent her life attending others. She just happens to be “old” and a little hard of hearing.

Many of the elderly were infantilized by the docs while the nurses and PCAs tried desperately to make up for those dismissals. For health care providers, it must get very depressing to be stretched thin by duties while trying to attend to the human and emotional needs of each patient — and ultimately to find that you simply don’t have time to do so.

4. My worst experience with a doctor during my stay was with the endocrinologist on my first night of admission. I greeted him with, “Yay, the man of the hour!” because my doctor and an ER doc suggested that my symptoms may very well be caused by a hormonal issue. He responded, “I really don’t know why I’ve been referred to you.” Though he was looking at my chart, I explained my recent six-week bout, included all symptoms, and told him of my doc’s imminent referral to his branch of medicine. Again, he countered, “Well, I don’t know what question I’m supposed to be answering.” I couldn’t believe the blatant resistance. I asked, “Why do you think my doctor would believe my symptoms to be hormonal in origin?” Instead of actually analyzing my symptoms and speculating how they could relate, the bastard argued, “I really can’t imagine why another doctor reaches the conclusions she does. I can’t get into her head.” “Doctor, it sounds like you’re really not interested in helping me.” At that, he mumbled something about running a blood test to check my cortisol levels as he walked away. Literally. No exaggeration. I never saw him again. His resident popped in on the last day as I was packing to leave, much to my amazement. He was nice but powerless. After hearing of my disdain for his supervisor, he assumed I would not want to see the man again as an outpatient. He laughed as words like “prick” and “worst bedside manner” and “needs another profession” bubbled up from the depths.

5. A person really figures out and finds out who their friends are while whiling away the hours in a bed for days on end. Many thanks to those of you who called, visited, sent love and concern, covered my classes, helped find people to cover my classes, and just everyone I heard from. You’ve left an imprint and made the hours go by much more positively than imagined.

6. The Michael Moore film, Sicko, uses a few extreme cases to illustrate some of the health care industry’s problems. There are many more less dramatic revelations to be exposed that I have not touched on but got a glimpse of during my first-ever patient tenure in a hospital. I can’t begin to imagine the toll the system takes on those who don’t have money and can’t get top-shelf care.

7. I have the best gynecologist in the world. My issues are not gyn-related at all, and yet, one day during my hospital stay I received a phone call, “This is Diane from Dr. Gomes’ office. Do you have a few minutes to speak with Dr. Gomes?” “Um, yes…” He got on the phone during his business hours, asked to hear and listened thoroughly to my six-week history. He then asked specific questions about what precipitated what, how that symptom manifested at this or that point, etc. In other words, he listened. He then advised me to aggressively advocate for certain tests, to be careful if something I was being told didn’t sound right, etc.

This is a man who, during office visits, sits in his office with you — beyond the scope of simply doing an exam — and talks with you about your well-being and uses other words like “holistic” and “systemic health”. He does not sell unnecessary procedures and, just incredibly, spends time with each patient. I’ve never waited to see him when I arrive on time for an appointment, he has tons of support staff, he invests in advanced equipment (I was one of the first to get a three-D sonogram of my uterus), and most importantly, he does not seem in a hurry to rush a soul out of his office. He answers questions and isn’t running a gynecological-mill to fund his third or fourth house or to get back to another round on the most exclusive golf course in Long Island. Perhaps he seems too good to be true, but to date, he keeps proving himself angelic-like, above and beyond the call of duty. Looking for a gyn? Go to Dr. John Gomes.

6. While staying on the cardiac ward, one can only sneak cell phone pics in the bathroom as cellular waves are banned due to cardiac machines and their frequencies. I was careful and only got the one below off. Enjoy!

By the way, my Baltimore pal, Aimee Darrow, has a much more “rewarding” post about her recent hospital stay over on Caffeine Diary, and Geof Huth has a much scarier or graphic account over at dpap: visualizing poetics.

Stellar Audio of Megan Volpert, Deborah Poe, & Laura Mullen

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For some excellent poetry readings, perk up your ears here:

Deborah Poe – http://odeo.com/audio/17981583/view

Megan A. Volpert – http://odeo.com/audio/17981433/view

Laura Mullen – http://odeo.com/audio/17981483/view

Enjoy!

Never a More Generous Man

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Never a more generous man have I met than poet and friend, Matthew Rotando. I take great pleasure in singing the praises of his first book of poems, THE COMEBACK’S EXOSKELETON. I wish you could all know him too, as you will find that once you fall in love with this collection, you will long to meet the person who has such zest for life as well as an eye not afraid to behold our evils. It’s really a lovely collection — and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been waiting for years for it to appear. You should throw caution to the wind and take up this EXOSKELETON! Discover how well dresses up your own worldview!

What others are saying:

Incorporating the density of Spanish surrealism and a sprawling Whitmanesque line, this amazing first book finds Rotando engaged in a poetic biathlon which draws equally from maximal and minimal traditions. There are tight, economical poems, free verse forms derived from the sonnet, poems leaping about the page, but my favorites are the wonderful prose poems tumbling over and under themselves toward gnomish statements that feel both didactic and self-parodying. –Tim Peterson, from the Foreword

The rich, exultant writing in Matthew Rotando’s first collection is both comic and cosmic. Lyrics steeped in the Latin American literary tradition disclose what might be called the surreality of reality in contemporary American culture, while cadences of Stein and Barthelme make the prose poems in The Comeback’s Exoskeleton ring with laughter of great philosophical depth. This is a writer unafraid to love and to err, and to do so with irrepressible grace and humour. To read such unapologetically joyous work is a tonic for melancholy and a prescription for wonder. –Srikanth Reddy, Facts for Visitors
And a few short poems from the collection, though there are many longer ones to gleefully sink into:

THE OCTOPUS MAN, TO HIS SON

 

Son, watch the way the eaves bend when you breathe.

They move the way a star would

If you could corral water into spheres.

 

Shadows play in the paint under the floor:

Tentacular spirits!

They will hold your cages and laboratory equipment.

 

Your time as a human is near at hand;

I am repealing all the old regulations

Regarding prostrations and guttural pronouncements.

 

There will be things called Souvenir Shops;

Bring back an “I ♥ Mt. Rushmore” keychain for your mother.

 

~~

 

TOM DEVANEY, LON CHANEY

 

I snave this heaking suspicion

That the poung yoet, Tom Devaney,

Is really the mold oviestar, Lon Chaney.

If lou yisten to the way they laugh,

Or notice their hartling, storror movie eyes,

You’ll sefinitely dee

That they’re both obvious dasters of misguise.

 

 

AMY, I’M GOING TO CALL YOU THE TROUBLE GIRL

 

I like trouble. I like to shoot watermelon seeds at passing barges. I wanna

put Elmer’s Glue in your hair and make it stick straight up. I wanna go

down to the docks and kick some ass! Your shoes small like skunk. And

so do mine. If we were lizards, I bet we would both be geckoes with

sticky round fingers. A friend is someone who decides to find you out.

Let’s have a broken bottle party! A Chinese dude, Shih-Wu, said, “Pine

trees and strange rocks remain unknown to those who look for mind

with mind.” So let’s not bother. Let’s just walk arm in arm through a

crumbling metropolis, clacking castanets.

 

–From THE COMEBACK’S EXOSKELETON by Matthew Rotando

 

 

In the mood for one more? Try this one, complete with a nearly naked pic!

☻☺☻☺☻☺

Daisy Fried’s Poetry Exercises

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Daisy Fried on Poetry:

* I’ve never found an explanation for why poetry, apparently alone among the art forms, is asked to do more than be itself.

* But poetry’s the High Art which is also democratic: inexpensive, portable, reproducible, quickly consumed (except for epic and very difficult poetry), requiring only literacy to participate. So maybe it’s good that poetry carries this extra burden, even if it means that the idea of poetry is more necessary to people than individual poems, and that people tend not to pay attention to what’s happening on the page. But this doesn’t explain why the superfluous demands are often made by educated poetry experts. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. Why should we make them of poetry in general?

* Words matter. Use is not function. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I’ve used it that way myself, after reading it. The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. So too poetry. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. They lack that rich ambiguity which Keats called negative capability, and so fail as poems. Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do “sniff the air.” There are good 9/11 poems. The degraded Romanticism of the mass of bad ones often amounts to decorative displays of the poet’s own sensibility. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? They seem to claim authenticity for individual experiences derived from watching TV—and fail to ask the question, why do these people want to kill us? Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. I believe 9/11 solace poetry has given support, however indirectly and unintentionally, to the Bush administration. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. Sex pornography has its uses, even positive ones, but nobody confuses it with serious art about love. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they’re making pornography. Shame on them.* Poetry matters. Great poems don’t always fit categories of usage: Martial’s hilariously filthy invectives, Dickinson’s apolitical lyrics, and, despite their stupid fascism, Pound’s Cantos, all function as great poetry. Meanwhile, the four of us write poems. We might begin by intending to be merely useful (I never have). But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. That’s the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? Why exclude ourselves from our own readership?

* Enjoyment matters. Poetry is fun! I mean this seriously. In “Lapis Lazuli,” Yeats insists on the gaiety of human existence alongside its tragedy. Yes, there is terrible suffering; we are all going to die. And when, on the carved lapis lazuli, a man “asks for mournful melodies;/Accomplished fingers begin to play;/…their eyes,/Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.” The gaiety of great poetry reinforces and deepens our humanity. That’s personal—and therefore social. Forget that, and we forget poetry’s true function.

–from “Does Poetry Have a Social Function” @ The Poetry Foundation

Listen in on a conversation I had with Daisy Fried HERE: powered by ODEO

A POEM A DAY BY DAISY FRIED

1. Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.

2. Write a poem that tells a story in 18 lines or less, and includes at least four proper nouns.

3. Write a poem that uses any of the senses EXCEPT SIGHT as its predominant imagery.

4. Write a poem inspired by a newspaper article you read this week.

5. Write a poem without adjectives.

6. Ask your roommate/neighbor/lover/friend/mother/anyone for a subject (as wild as they want to make it) for a ten-minute poem. Now write a poem about that subject in ten minutes; make it have a beginning, a middle and an end.

7. Write the worst poem you possibly can. Now edit it and make it even worse.

8. Poem subject: A wind blows something down. Or else it doesn’t. Write it in ten minutes.

9. Write a poem with each line, or at least many of the lines, filling in the blanks of “I used to________, but now I_________.”

11. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you’d like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best

friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.

12. Write a poem that uses as a starting point a conversation you overheard.

13. First line of today’s poem: “This is not a poem, but…”

14. Write a poem in the form of either a letter or a speech which uses at least six of the following words: horses, “no, duh,” adolescent, autumn

leaves, necklace, lamb chop, Tikrit, country rock, mother, scamper, zap, bankrupt. Take no more than 13 minutes to write it.

15. Write a poem which includes a list or lists-shopping list, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists,

lists of events, lists of names…

16. Poem subject: A person runs where no running is allowed. Write it in ten minutes.

17. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.

18. Write a poem made up entirely of questions. Or write a poem made up entirely of directions.

19. Write a poem about the first time you did something.

20. Write a poem about falling out of love.

21. Make up a secret. Then write a poem about it. Or ask someone to give you a made-up or real secret, and write a poem about it.

22. Write a poem about a bird you don’t know the name of.

23. Write a hate poem.

24. Free-write for, say, 15 minutes, but start with the phrase “In the kitchen” and every time you get stuck, repeat the phrase “In the

kitchen.” Alternatively, use any part of a house you have lots of associations with-“In the garage,” “In the basement,” “In the bathroom,” “In the yard.”

25. Write down 5-10 words that sound ugly to you. Use them in a poem.

26. Write a poem in which a motorcycle and a ballerina appear.

27. Write a poem out of the worst part of your character.

28. Write a poem that involves modern technology-voice mail, or instant messaging, or video games, or… 29. Write a seduction poem in which somebody seduces you.

30. Radically revise a poem you wrote earlier this month.

The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld

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“His work, with its dedication to the fractured rhythms of the plainspoken vernacular, is reminiscent of William Carlos Williams’. Some readers may find that Rumsfeld’s gift for offhand, quotidian pronouncements is as entrancing as Frank O’Hara’s.”

–from Slate

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

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Nominations To Begin For 2008 Poet Laureate of The Blogosphere

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Nominations To Begin For 2008 Poet Laureate of The Blogosphere

 

Billy is pleased to announce that BloggingPoet.com will again host the Poet Laureate Of The Blogosphere Election for the 4th year in a row with nominations beginning April 1, 2008. The Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere is the only laureateship chosen by readers.Previous winners are 2007 Amy King, 2006 Ron Silliman and 2005 Jilly Dybka.

Poets Off Poetry

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 This Recording

Thanks to Jackie Clark for inviting me to participate in the ten part Poets Off Poetry series.

My contribution, “Fed You From The Blood of My Nose: A Medley Melodic,” appears under the heading, “In Which Nearly Every Human Knows This Desire.”

Lots of links to music you might enjoy, and I hope you do …

~~~

p.s. Ana B. had an interesting dream, and Seth A. has an interesting take …

~~~

  1. Jim K. Says:
    March 7th, 2008 at 11:45 am eSome great links,
    but a lot are broken
    (from that pub).
  2. Amy King Says:
    March 7th, 2008 at 10:00 pm eA few were fixed — I hope not too many broken remain.

    That’s a poem, no?

    Thanks for visiting the site, Jim!

    A

  3. Jim K. Says:
    March 7th, 2008 at 11:20 pm eSometimes
    the load makes
    the site drop links.

    Not intentionally poetic.

    At philosophy forums,
    handyman sites,
    and radio reviews,
    I am accused of
    poetry due to my
    linebreaks.

    Now you.
    I give up ;-)

  4. Jim K. Says:
    March 7th, 2008 at 11:21 pm egood bonnie!
  5. Amy King Says:
    March 8th, 2008 at 6:39 pm eFunny how line breaks can make music!

Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley

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 DELIRIOUS HEM

The following excerpts are taken from “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley — Braiding: ConVERSations: To, Against, For”

It would be one thing if poetry were made of words alone,
but it is not–no more than words themselves are.

 –Paolo Friere via James Scully (Linebreak 133)
 
…If essentialism means being able to name the rubrics within which we (women of color, African Americans, women, etc., etc.) may simultaneously be constrained, limited, subjugated by more powerful others and be nurtured, engaged, empowered by ourselves and our allies, then essentialism still has useful work to do in the struggle for social justice. I recognize the dangers it poses. I’ll stop identifying as an African American woman when most people in this society have stopped understanding me in terms of my proximity to those categories (and all the others that may be relevant to my subjectivity)–you first. Meanwhile, “networks of communities and…relationships” seems to be a productive model for describing my own activities in the world (of poetry). The focus on multiplicity potentially opens our eyes to connections that are predictable and unpredictable.
 …This move turns on the significance to BAM “black aesthetics” of asserting a (“black”) “self” in the face of the oppressive and dismissive aesthetic standards that have been imposed upon the writing of African Americans since the era of Phillis Wheatley. An important point related to the foregoing is how critical it is for us to recognize that sexism is racism, at times, without losing the specificity of either category in our analyses.
 

…Whether one believes that poetry can affect or change what readers believe, can articulate ways of seeing the world that could circulate in and shape popular culture, can mobilize people for political action, etc., or not, poetry represents an economy of ideas (political, social, aesthetic, cultural) in which the currency is more valuable than it is often given credit for being.
 

“I have become a lot more aware over the past year or two
how often gender dynamics operate in really screwed-up ways
within a community I had complacently assumed was a lot more
progressive and enlightened than it sometimes reveals itself to be.
Just at the level, for example, of how much men outnumber women
on tables of contents, or how women’s comments are ignored in blog
conversations, or how men get threatened and aggressive when women
speak up about these things.”

  –K. Silem Mohammad
 

…I’ll just add that the variety of forms that sexism takes is part of what gives it such reverberating impact: outright dismissals of women and women’s poetry; silence regarding the influence of women poets upon poetic traditions; lip service to the importance of poetry by women that doesn’t lead to structural change in the systems that construct and reflect what we value in poetry (the canon)–these are just a few of the forms in which sexism operates in the context of poetry. And, Tonya, of course, I deeply appreciate your extension of Spahr and Young’s observation about sexism to encompass racism and other structures of exclusion.
 

…If Audre Lorde is correct in saying that “poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought” (in her indispensable essay “Poetry Is Not a Luxury”), then it can be argued that envisioning and articulating what is desired but does not yet exist is one of the primary tasks–or, less prescriptively, primary opportunities–of the poet’s work.

…The very instance of thinking through the systemic reasons that result in or contribute to the inequitable representation of poets who are not white and/or not male will necessitate the consideration of factors that cannot be reduced to aesthetics, but have everything to do with aesthetics.

…I am arguing that avant-garde poetics need not be defined in opposition to either a discernable engagement with politics in the work or an interest in audience(s). Where did this avant-garde poetry/political poetry divide come from anyway? What motivated the surrealists? What motivated Dada? The high modernists? The Beats? The Language poets? Or should I be asking what distinguishes these politically motivated aesthetic movements from the New Negro Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, the Nuyorican arts movement? And how does the most obvious answer to this last question relate to the notion of “a more radical feminism” and the intervention it could make in the world (of poetry)?
 

….I love Retallack’s concept of “pragmatically hybrid poetry communities” both because it seems grounded in immediate action and because it suggests the importance of seeking and forming alliances that don’t rely upon a mandated (false) unity around every possible issue of politics and aesthetics that might be raised.
 
…Can we accept and act on the idea that “transform[ing] the circumstances or conditions of others” may deeply involve transforming who we are and how we occupy the world (of poetry)?
 
–CONTINUED in “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley — Braiding: ConVERSations: To, Against, For”

~~

3 Responses to “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 5:12 pm eEver notice how Evie takes the foreground of
    pictures and the sound of readings? There is
    a direct presence. No other.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 7:43 pm eLooking over wrongs, I’ve noticed
    over the years that oafishness and
    subconscious deflection are often
    the cause than intention and aggression.
    Which is to say, maybe things are less
    deliberate, more subtle, but paradoxically
    harder to dig up. Just a thought from mulling
    the comments I’ve seen by editors of both
    genders for years. True Anthropology might
    find more natural things than the old wounding
    paradigms presupposed. If it could ever escape
    the hothouse of likely well over 100,000 trawlers
    trapped in an inland sea, and all the political
    3rd rails, that is.
  3. Jim K Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 10:05 pm eOops…I am out of sync with the
    aggressiveness thing that happened..
    sorry bout the babbling.

Benjamin on Baudelaire

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 The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire

From the “INTRODUCTION” By Michael W. Jennings — THE WRITER OF MODERN LIFE: ESSAYS ON CHARLES BAUDELAIRE by Walter Benjamin:

Yes the ragpicker is also a figure for Baudelaire, for the poet who draws on the detritus of the society through which he moves, seizing that which seems useful in part because society has found it useless. And finally, the ragpicker is a figure for Baudelaire himself, for the critic who assembles his critical montage from inconspicuous images wrested forcefully from the seeming coherence of Baudelaire’s poems. Here and throughout Benjamin’s writings on Baudelaire, we find a powerful identification with the poet: with his social isolation, with the relative failure of his work, and in particular with the fathomless melancholy that suffuses every page.

Benjamin concludes this first constellation by contrasting Baudelaire with Pierre Dupont, an avowed social poet, whose work strives for a direct, indeed simple tendentious engagement with the political events of the day. In contrasting Baudelaire with Dupont, Benjamin reveals a “profound duplicity” at the heart of Baudelaire’s poetry–which, he contends, is less a statement of support for the cause of the oppressed, than a violent unveiling of their illusions. As Benjamin wrote in his notes to the essay, “It would be an almost complete waste of time to attempt to draw the position of a Baudelaire into the network of the most advanced positions in the struggle for human liberation. From the outset, it seems more promising to investigate his machinations where he was undoubtedly at home: in the enemy camp … Baudelaire was a secret agent–an agent of the secret discontent of his class with its own rule.” … By the late 1930s Benjamin was convinced that traditional historiography, with its reliance upon the kind of storytelling that suggests the inevitable process and outcome of historical change, “is meant to cover up the revolutionary moments in the occurrence of history … The places where tradition breaks off–hence its peaks and crags, which offer footing to one who would cross over them–it misses.” … Benjamin thus seeks to create a textual space in which a speculative, intuitive, and analytical intelligence can move, reading images and the relays between them in such a way that the present meaning of “what has been comes together in a flash.” This is what Benjamin calls the dialectical image.

In the central section of “Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire,” titled “The Flaneur,” Benjamin turns to an extended consideration of the reciprocally generative relations between certain artistic genres and societal forms. In the crowded streets of the urban metropolis, the individual is not merely absorbed into the masses: all traces of individual existence are in fact effaced. And popular literary and artistic forms such as physiologies (literary and artistic exemplifications of physiognomic types) and panoramas (representations of “typical” tableaux in Paris) arose, Benjamin argues, precisely in order to quell the deep-seated unease that characterized this situation: through their “harmlessness” they suggested a “perfect bonhomie” devoid of all resistance to the social order of the day, and in so doing contributed to the “phantasmagoria of Parisian life.”

…Physiologies are in this sense deeply complicit with phantasmagoria, in that they fraudulently suggest we are in possession of a knowledge that we do not in fact have. As Benjamin says, physiologies “assured people that everyone could — unencumbered by any factual knowledge — make out the profession, character, background, and lifestyle of passers-by.” …

If Baudelaire’s poetry is neither symptomatic of social conditions (as were the physiologies) nor capable of providing procedures for dealing with them (as did the detective story), what exactly is the relationship of that poetry to modernity? Benjamin champions Baudelaire precisely because his work claims a particular historical responsibility: in allowing itself to be marked by the ruptures and aporias of modern life, it reveals the brokenness and falseness of modern experience. At the heart of Benjamin’s reading is thus a theory of shock, developed on the basis of a now-famous reading of the poem “A une passante” (To a Passer-By). The speaker of the poem, moving through the “deafening” street amid the crowd, suddenly spies a woman walking along and “with imposing hand / Gathering up a scalloped hem.” The speaker is transfixed, his body twitches, wholly overcome by the power of the image. Yet, Benjamin argues, the spasms that run through the body are not caused by “the excitement of a man in whom an image has taken possession of every fiber of his being”; their cause is instead the powerful, isolated shock “with which an imperious desire suddenly overcomes a lonely man.”

This notion of a shock-driven poetic capability as a significant departure from the understanding of artistic creation prevalent in Benjamin’s day and in fact still powerfully present today. The poet is, in this view, not a genius who “rises above” his age and distills its essence for posterity. For Benjamin, the greatness of Baudelaire consists instead in his absolute susceptibility to the worst excrescences of modern life: Baudelaire was in possession not of genius, but of an extraordinarily “sensitive disposition” that enable him to perceive, through a painful empathy, the character of an age. And for Benjamin, the “character of the age” consisted in its thoroughgoing commodification. Baudelaire was not simply aware of the processes of commodification from which the phantasmagoria constructs itself; he in fact embodied those processes in an emphatic manner. When he takes his work to market, the poet surrenders himself as a commodity to the “intoxification of the commodity immersed in a surging stream of customers.” The poet’s role as a producer and purveyor of commodities opens him to a special “empathy with inorganic things.” And this, in turn, “was one of his sources of inspiration.” Baudelaire’s poetry is thus riven by its images o a history that is nothing less than a “permanent catastrophe.” This is the sense in which Baudelaire was the “secret agent” of the destruction of his own class.

…Baudelaire’s spleen–that is, his profound disgust at things as they were–is only the most evident emotional sign of this state of affairs.

–From the “INTRODUCTION” By Michael W. Jennings — THE WRITER OF MODERN LIFE: ESSAYS ON CHARLES BAUDELAIRE by Walter Benjamin

~~

I Dig It

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Jennifer Bartlett’s DERIVATIVE OF THE MOVING IMAGE

Jennifer Bartlett’s first book, with its most compelling title, DERIVATIVE OF THE MOVING IMAGE, is somehow not what I imagined it would be. I mean, there is shadow play and fondling of the slippery parts of relationships, but how can a first book reveal the mastery found within? I am envious and happy to have made this tome’s “moving” acquaintance. You would do well to spend a winter night curled around it too. Here’s one and a third to get you started:
 

JOHN, ONCE AGAIN I FALL INTO THE REALM OF UTTER PERIL

The body has its own form of chaos, a solar system
through which it moves. When you touch me you
become a smaller part of this balance and it is
unclear whether it is skin or the idea of skin you are
reaching for. When I shake I can feel your temptation
to wound me, to tack me down like a saved, dead
insect. If my spine were not a question mark. If my
hands were not flutters.

~~~

FROM A PARIS HOTEL ROOM

It was the spring after my sister died that I began to notice
the moths. They would follow me from room to room beating
against the window shades or showing themselves in the one
tiny patch of light as I dressed for the day. Some days, some
hours, I would count as many as twenty and still they held no
significance for me. I saw them as many see the trees that line
the highway, just passing objects.

… [con’t]

–From DERIVATIVE OF THE MOVING IMAGE by Jennifer Bartlett

If you thirst for the rest, you’ll have to go here and do a little dance!

Enjoy!

~~~

  1. Jennifer Bartlett Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 10:47 pm eAmy,

    Thanks. What a great surprise! I feel like the queen of England!

Best Second Book

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 THE REVIEWS

BEST SECOND BOOK
(One time the singer Seal said something about how you have your whole life to write your first album, so people shouldn’t expect greatness out of a second attempt. These five say “go back in the water, Seal.”)

Goat Funeral, Christopher Bakken
Inflorescence, Sarah Hannah
I’m the Man Who Loves You, Amy King
Drunk by Noon, Jennifer L. Knox
a half-red sea, Evie Shockley

~~

OTHER CATEGORIES COVERED at COLDFRONT:

Best Book of New Poetry Published in 2007 ** Best First Book ** Best Second Book ** Best All-New Collection by a Canonical Figure ** Best Selected/Collected ** Best Poem in a New Collection ** Best Author Photo ** Best Book Title ** Best Book Cover ** Best Long Poem ** Best Book-Length Poem ** Best Opener ** Best Closer ** Best First Lines ** Best Closing Lines ** Technical Awards ** Best “Thirteenth Poem” ** Best Response to Coldfront **

FIND OUT THE “WHO’S” BY STOPPING BY COLDFRONT TODAY!

~~

Dusie, Dusie, Dusie CHAPS!

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a bodyfeel lexicon. (gordon/bozek) dimestore operetta say. (bowen) developing poetic ideas. (chirot)
time space repetition. (armentrout) vie et pli. (giovenale) afar buzzing stars. (scappettone)
props of henwifery. (sprague) digress into residency. (berridge)
laced with forethought. (murphy) postcard of the. (tate) I posit no. (fieled)
erratogenic paraparasitic postpoem
. (goodland) erotic false consciousness. (ward) first swifts come. (shaeppi)
will be waxing. (art) &lipstick&moss&bodice. (carignan) flamenco pierced her. (tabios)
a citizen I. (snyder) engirth, discorrupt, linger. (workman) correspondence, obscure, reveal. (fletcher)
enhanced ego-interference patterning. (orange) fairly clear the. (boyer) telephone as intermediary. (hunter)
vista of verdancy
. (stengel) pale blue twilight. (phipps) (an historical site) magi.
little decisions thrumming
. (boykoff) writing records eden. (farr) production of hormones. (marcacci)
our crops far-flung
. (sand) going not gone. (hofer) informed by light. (compton)

my embroidery she (abulhassan) ruby large enow. (gardner) composition as process. (hayes) like you tiger-shock. (smith)
distance presence print. (pusateri) certain fields escape. (muench/allegrezza) fragile engines flashing. (detorie)
the great desire. (nakayasu)
behold a glimmering. (quimba) splendid drifts of. (kunz)
salt, line, obedience.
(cox/cox-farr) eyes glass hands. (lamoureux)
template, some vicissitude
. (mauro) little red song-book. (newman) imagistic kinetic dizzy. (stamatakis)
a need for. (behm-steinberg) gaga futurism pales. (cooper) a lavish spectacle. (deming)
him, wings adjacent. (heide) hands half face. (king) presently be said. (stempleman) known as “we”. (nelligan)
underground I go. (graham) adorn honour bright. (mangold) paced awning graces. (klinger)
courting in earnest. (spahr) grew inside we. (madison) a running plotline. (janssen)

The Politics of Ashok

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Or rather, Ashok Karra’s thoughts on my political side. I am most grateful for his ongoing engagement and interest in my work.

Today, Ashok was moved by a recent poem that appears in Jacket, “Two if by Land, I Do”:

…As always, Amy King is well-aware of what I, as a student of Leo Strauss, would call the ancient/modern distinction. The fundamental difference between us and the medievals/Romans/Greeks is that we base politics on the fact men are not angels…

~~

In the past, Ashok has explored “Everyone Has a Decision To Make“:

I want to meditate on the above poem in order to see the relation between speech and coming to a conclusion within one’s own thought. My own feeling is that this has broad implications for how we conceive of politics. If we cannot be sure of our own moral stances, how can we be so sure others are wrong?

Many, many thanks, Ashok for your thoughts on and with these poems!

~~

“The true critic is he who bears within himself the dreams and ideas and feelings of myriad generations, and to whom no form of thought is alien, no emotional impulse obscure.” –Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

~~

One Response to “The Politics of Ashok”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 8:00 pm e..wow, a Straussian (as in Leo, grandpop
    of the Neo-Cons), no less?!
    That’s a difference. But very
    thoughtfully analyzed…and the premises
    crisply laid out. Fascinating. And
    someone who follows the path back through
    the prisms to you… not like the reviewers
    who find mainly quirky lingo and mystery, eh?
    Another sees sense beneath shimmers..
    ..impressive. Some widely-studied codeword
    reader, maybe. To borrow a metaphor
    from Strauss, Ashok seems to work hard at
    seeing the shapes beyond the shadows!

    I’m a bit “open society”/Popper/Soros myself..
    ..heh..there’s a difference! But that makes Ashok
    all the more fascinating.

    I found you basically via phrase-tuning, Amy…
    ..I wonder if Ashok had some similar path.
    Or is it just the temptation of knowing there is
    something flashing at the bottom of your pools?

AWP New York City

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Photo by Brent Cunningham, who voted me the one to “Most Likely Blog About This Blog.”

~~

* Ana and I hung out at the AWP bookfair for one day only. We paid no money, but luckily, I got to share a table with Cannibal, Kitchen Press, and Soft Targets. I saw lots of nice books, though I had no money; moreover, I chatted with lots of pleasant poets — too many to recount. But you should certainly see a few photos of said poets here.

* I’m sorry I missed Daniela Olszewska, who stopped by my table and left her chapbook for me while I was wandering. Thank you, Daniela!

* The always lovely Matthew Zapruder gave me a poetry bus t-shirt.

* William Howe slipped me Tom Orange’s “American Dialectics” hot off his Slack Buddha Press.

* Cannibal Books dropped Dustin Williamson’s “Exhausted Grunts” into my little hands.

* Matt Hart handed over “B^Sides” by his band, Travel. I’m looking forward to hearing what sounds emerge …

* John Deming passed along his Dusie chapbook, “Toadous,” forthcoming.

* Jennifer Bartlett stopped by with a copy of her most gorgeous “Derivative of the Moving Image.”

* Billy Collins came over and offered me his “dirty” candy bar, pictured below, which I accepted. I then offered him my latest book, which he politely accepted. I asked him to please not take it if he was going to give it away. He said he would read it and left. True story.

~~

billy-collins-sexy-candy.jpg

Not Thinking Alike

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“It is not best that we all should think alike, it is differences of opinion that make horse races.”

–Mark Twain

~~

A few new poems written by my non-pseudonym in Jacket Magazine:

* The Arm of Eden
* Where Bullfinches Go to Defy
* Two if by Land, I Do
* A Martyrdom Should Behave Us All

This is an early appearance as Jacket #35 is still under construction though you’ll find a little action there already.

Please enjoy!

~~

4 Responses to “Not Thinking Alike”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    January 31st, 2008 at 5:55 pm eLooks like Mark Twain has anxiety…
    …but wait, that’s correct.
    Love those, esp. the last two.
    The face is bold, looking in and out. -)
  2. Amy King Says:
    February 3rd, 2008 at 4:05 am eYay! I’m glad you liked them, Jim! It’s funny – Ana also said she liked the last two best too.
  3. ashok Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 8:12 am eAll your poems are amazing, but “Two if by Land, I Do” has me reading and rereading and wondering. It’s probably no stretch to say it is an important poem, where you’ve gotten at the cosmic through the personal, all by one little twist – changing “do you want” to “do you believe.”It is really astounding to me how nuanced your political views are, how they comprehend so many issues most of us would abstract from the realm of politics.I sound nuts, don’t I.
  4. Jim K. Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 9:08 pm eheh…not at all, Ashok. There are political, personal, and
    philosophical nuances swimming in that ocean. Your
    language and cultural tuning is astute.

Small Presses and Big Politics

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1. Go on and support Small Press Distribution if you have money to spare. My most recent is available now.

2. One speculative equation regarding “How Clinton Won“:

“Hillary Clinton won last night by putting together the voting coalition that has held Democratic frontrunners in good stead for 75 years. Take a look at these numbers – all of which come from CNN’s cross-tabulated exit polls. What you’ll see is that Hillary Clinton won many elements of the traditional FDR coalition.”

Click on RealClearPolitics for the numbers.

“Obama, on the other hand, had a very different electorate – one that has a bit in common with the insurgent candidacies of Gary Hart and Bill Bradley.”

Click on RealClearPolitics for that equation too.

3. From Judith Warner’s OpEd at The New York Times:

Could she “relate” to Clinton? Was she likely to find a “friend” in a woman with a camera-ready helmet of hair? Could she learn from Hillary? Could they share beauty tips? Would her gesture toward female bonding be well-received and perhaps met with the kind of positive mirroring of which Best Friendships Forever are made? …

It’s all about how you make voters feel.

Feeling – not thinking – becomes all-important when you have a field of candidates who aren’t really all that different from one another politically…

–Judith Warner, “Emotion Without Thought in New Hampshire

4. Reminds me of my current bedside reading, THE POLITICAL BRAIN, by Drew Westen:

“In politics, when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins. Elections are decided in the marketplace of emotions, a marketplace filled with values, images, analogies, moral sentiments, and moving oratory, in which logic plays only a supporting role. Westen shows, through a whistle-stop journey through the evolution of the passionate brain and a bravura tour through fifty years of American presidential and national elections, why campaigns succeed and fail. The evidence is overwhelming that three things determine how people vote, in this order: their feelings toward the parties and their principles, their feelings toward the candidates, and, if they haven’t decided by then, their feelings toward the candidates’ policy positions.

Westen turns conventional political analyses on their head, suggesting that the question for Democratic politics isn’t so much about moving to the right or the left but about moving the electorate.”

–Drew Westen, THE POLITICAL BRAIN

~~~~

2 Responses to “Small Presses and Big Politics”

  1. T Says:
    January 12th, 2008 at 12:03 am enice little rundown. still can’t get worked up over this election yet though
  2. Jim K. Says:
    January 13th, 2008 at 1:12 am eA factor doesn’t do much unless a lack
    of it was a special problem. Either happy
    or sad would have cracked it. Too logical
    and you are “inhuman”. Too emotional
    and you are “weak”. There is some magical
    ideal nobody knows until it’s stepped on.
    Pundits overdramatize. It’s their job to
    push buttons. The news that the choices
    weren’t disgusting is no news.

New Year

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 Such Flowers Love One When Nothing Else Does

Welcome 2008! Above please find new work by painter, Cara Ober. I have the privilege of sharing some titles, ala John Ashbery/Jane Hammond, with Ober in an effort to inspire her latest. So far, two results to kick off the new year. Find the other one, “Into the Shadows We Go …” by clicking here.

From those titles, I concocted a few poems. You’ll find one, “A Kind of Headless Guilt Emerges”, in The Portable Boog Reader 2, An Anthology of New York City Poetry, edited by Laura Elrick, Brenda Iijima, Mark Lamoureux, Christina Strong, Rodrigo Toscano, and David Kirschenbaum.

Fellow poet, Ana Božičević-Bowling has also used the titles to write a few poems as well. The contagion is on … you’ll find her version of “A Kind of Headless Guilt Emerges” within the very same anthology, along with work by:

Bruce Andrews – – – – – – Ellen Baxt
Jim Behrle – – – – – – Jen Benka
Charles Bernstein – – – – – – Anselm Berrigan
Charles Borkhuis – – – – – – Ana Božičević-Bowling
Lee Ann Brown – – – – – – Allison Cobb
Julia Cohen – – – – – – Todd Colby
Brenda Coultas – – – – – – Alan Davies
Mónica de la Torre – – – – – – LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs
Thom Donovan – – – – – – Joe Elliot
Robert Fitterman – – – – – – Corrine Fitzpatrick
G.L. Ford – – – – – – Greg Fuchs
Joanna Fuhrman – – – – – – Drew Gardner
Eric Gelsinger – – – – – – Garth Graeper
David Micah Greenberg – – – – – – E. Tracy Grinnell
Christine Hamm – – – – – – Robert Hershon
Mitch Highfill – – – – – – Bob Holman
Paolo Javier – – – – – – Paul Foster Johnson
Eliot Katz – – – – – – Erica Kaufman
Amy King – – – – – – Bill Kushner
Rachel Levitsky – – – – – – Andrew Levy
Brendan Lorber – – – – – – Kimberly Lyons
Dan Machlin – – – – – – Jill Magi
Gillian McCain – – – – – – Sharon Mesmer
Carol Mirakove – – – – – – Anna Moschovakis
Murat Nemet-Nejat – – – – – – Cate Peebles
Tim Peterson – – – – – – Simon Pettet
Wanda Phipps – – – – – – Nick Piombino
Kristin Prevallet – – – – – – Arlo Quint
Evelyn Reilly – – – – – – Kim Rosenfield
Lauren Russell – – – – – – Kyle Schlesinger
Nathaniel Siegel – – – – – – Joanna Sondheim
Chris Stackhouse – – – – – – Stacy Szymaszek
Edwin Torres – – – – – – Anne Waldman
Shanxing Wang – – – – – – Lewis Warsh
Karen Weiser – – – – – – Angela Veronica Wong
Matvei Yankelevich – – – – – – Lila Zemborain

Enjoy! May you find some good cheer and kick-ass art in your 2008!

~~

One Response to “New Year”

  1. T Says:
    January 5th, 2008 at 8:23 pm eCool stuff, glad I checked this site out!

Quickie

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Yes, that’s John Travolta and Kirk Douglas lip wrestling, but this post is about much more than curing the daily — Jim K wrote a quick review of my recent Dusie chap, Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country (send your address to amyhappens @ gmail dot com for a copy). And thank you, Jim!

For more sexiness, click here now!

~~

4 Responses to “Quickie”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    December 11th, 2007 at 6:08 pm eHeh…I dunno; I saw Travolta’s mouth drool a lot
    in “Battlefield Earth”.
  2. Amy King Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 9:00 pm eHeh heh!
  3. Sara Says:
    January 2nd, 2008 at 9:29 pm eHi Amy, did I tell you yet that your new chapbook’s title is I think about the best I’ve ever heard? ‘Cannot wait to read it.

    It appears that John Travolta’s taste in men is even worse than his taste in scripts post-Pulp Fiction — this post reminded me of something I saw on 60 Minutes a few years ago: Apparently, Kirk Douglas had been on the show, and a few weeks later I was watching another episode in which they reviewed some of their mail. A few women wrote a letter together, saying, “If Kirk Douglas thinks women should be more like dogs, we think he should be more like a tree.”

  4. Amy King Says:
    January 4th, 2008 at 10:33 pm eI’m so glad you’re into the new chap, Sara! And yes, I think you summed Travolta and Douglas up… don’t get me started on his son, Charlie Sheen. Ugh.

    Happy happy to you and yours, Ms. S!