Sunday, October 23, 2016

On Bob Dylan and the current plague of self-love: dudes, we all suffer

Father and son.
I'm keeping this short. There some was mention of being chosen for a Nobel on Dylan's website. My hunch is that a caretaker of the site did that, not Dylan. I further hunch that Dylan told the underling to remove the acknowledgement, however minimal it was. Okay, so there's that. The Academy has not had its phone call returned.

Then PEN asked an odd slew of writers the organization apparently respects for their opinion about Bob Dylan being given the Nobel. Most of the comments, even the favorable ones, were uninteresting. So to sum up the Nobel's sense of being snubbed and the idiotic outrage this year, I have one short offering.

Just because you like me doesn't mean I have to like you. Just because the Nobel Committee likes Bob Dylan doesn't mean he has to like the Nobel Committee. As for those comments on the PEN site, on the prize, WHAT? Amy King (who was one of those asked to respond), Dylan didn't write "inspiring and motivational songs." His songs have inspired some, motivated others. There's a difference. This is one prize, one year. If anyone assigns it power, that someone is not me. Everyone, these days, is enchanted with their own suffering, so enchanted they can't see anyone else's. Everyone is so enchanted with their own success they can't acknowledge anyone else's.

In a recent car trip I listened to another writer talk about the suffering she has endured as result of being Persian. Her sufferings are legit. But when I mentioned the kind of institutional, four hundred year-plus "sufferings" of my nieces and nephews, who are black in America, she had nothing to say. She tried to match them. Everyone is competing. Few people are willing to recognize the enormous gifts they are given. I am so tired of the self-love and love of self in this country and certainly among writers in this country. It's become small and mean and territorial.  That's all I have to say. For now.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Suburban Classes - a poem by Stevie Smith, the Great

The Suburban Classes
There is far too much of the suburban classes
Spiritually not geographically speaking. They’re asses.
Menacing the greatness of our beloved England, they lie
Propagating their kind in an eightroomed stye.
Now I have a plan which I will enfold
(There’s this to be said for them, they do as they’re told)
Then tell them their country’s in mortal peril
They believed it before and again will not cavil
Put it in caption form firm and slick
If they see it in print it is bound to stick:
‘Your King and your Country need you Dead’
You see the idea? Well, let it spread.
Have a suitable drug under string and label
Free for every Registered Reader’s table.
For the rest of the gang who are not patriotic
I’ve another appeal they’ll discover hypnotic:
Tell them it’s smart to be dead and won’t hurt
And they’ll gobble up drug as they gobble up dirt.

All rights and praise to Stevie Smith, 1901 to 1971. Artwork by Stevie Smith, too.

Friday, October 14, 2016

We won't be able to simply 'move on' from Frump - we'll have to re-educate our boys & girls - they've been listening

I just watched Michelle Obama's speech at a New Hampshire rally. My reaction? Damn, it's good to feel moral again, to hear decency praised, to know someone has their eye on our children.

As Frump has been uglifying America, I've worried about women's lives being under constant threat of verbal and physical assault. That's always a worry but my fears were situated front and center as Frump ranted and raved. What I appreciate about Michelle Obama's speech is its reminder -- women and girls - girls - are at risk. Michelle Obama reminds me is that girls and boys - boys - are at risk. They are watching us watching Frump as he brags about sexually assaulting women.

I grew up hearing pops of rage from my father and a strange hysteria from my mother. Some of the troubles and defects of my life reflect childhood fear. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying (as they just say).

But I never heard one generic insult hurled at women or men or girls or boys. I don't remember hearing one racial insult. My mother once expressed her worries about the Pope. She was raised by Swedish Lutherans who were die-hard Protestants, nationally trained during their late-1800 childhoods to fear Catholics. And as I write this I realize that my mother's bit of prejudice effected me and was something I had to work through. Mom expressed her prejudice once, maybe twice. That's it. And yet if affected me.

The only country or nationality I heard demeaned in my family household was Poland. "The Poles were worse than the Germans," my parents said, referring to Polish treatment of Jews during WW II. My Christian mother was more virulent on the topic than my father.

Those minor generalized assaults (I'm not talking about the general discord and rage in our household) had an impact on me. That being the case, WHAT is the impact of Donald Frump's horrid and incessant racism and sexism. He's not going to be President but we STILL have to undue his damage to the American psyche.

We won't be able to simply 'move on' when Hillary is in the White House. We will have to address the New Ugliness. Racism and sexism weren't Frump's creation but gave those ugly attitudes a platform, a microphone, a frenzied audience.

We are faced with a huge catch-up of American morality and American decency. The past few years have also highlighted our racism and our dangerous addiction to guns. And they have also made it seem - seem - acceptable to make ugly horrifying comments about women and girls. Boys have been listening. They need to be told Frump was wrong. Girls need to be told Frump is wrong. Start speaking out.

Friday, September 30, 2016

I'm still a poet! And a teacher again! Professing writing!

Friends, Romans, frenemies,
This year: New people. New book. New body. New geology.
I need to take photos of the raw land I pass on the train in Jersey.
A track record of the Ice Age.
This past year has been whirlwindish in its fevered funneled tumultuousity. Multi-funneled, at that.

There was the final editing and input from and with my most wonderful publisher, Michael Broder of Indolent Books. And then, voila, Geographies of Soul and Taffeta, a tasty, delightful book of poems of which I am immensely proud. With which I am outrageously pleased.

Like the proper Southern belle it's not, Geographies had a debut, a coming out, as should an elegant and coy assemblage of poems. This, 3,000 miles from its home. This, at the Associated Writing Program's annual conference. This, in Los Angeles.  Along with the four other utterly wonderful books published by Indolent (by Robert Carr, Lisa Andrews, Joe Osmundson, Michael Broder), also debuting at the fete, Geographies sat upon a table, seductively fanning itself. Michael and myself and Robert Carr were behind the table, talking, selling, laughing.

Following that, I experienced a fallow period. Back in New York I felt, as they say, at odds. With myself and the world and certainly with poetry. It was what it was what it is which it was. After was-ing and is-ing ceased, I got my eyes checked and made the decision to get the operation I had feared, the second operation of my long life (the first involving appendix and an ovary).

Given my often hellish relationship with money and the fact my insurance company rep urged me to get the operation, promising they would cover it, and now is loathe to do so, laser surgery (not its grotesque predecessor, which involves cutting - cutting! - into the eye), was performed on one eye, then two weeks later, my other eye. My vision was made keener, crisper, not simply because cataracts were removed but because my surgeon surgeonated. He is a shining light and the first to be trained at Ear Eye Infirmary on laser surgery. So no matter what happens I now can read without glasses and get around as long as predators stay within five or so feet. After that, I need glasses.

And then, then being now, I begin teaching, or returned to teaching. Comp. Writing. Just comp. Just writing. Oh my gosh, my heart is open. I'm finding it so good to be with students again, and while I am teaching a ways away from my home, I am teaching, seeing new sights, commuting, helping. I am helping a group of people I want to help. I am doing service and being happy as a happy person can be.

So as of September 30, 2016, that's the deal in Sarah Sarai-world.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEWS: 2 poetry and 1 nonfiction: I wrote 'n published this year

The Cow with the Subtle Nose by Jean Dubuffet, 1954.

The three reviews I wrote and published this year (one more to come, most likely in October):
Wedlocked: the Perils of Marriage Equality by Katherine Francke, at Lambda  "Comparing African-American rights with LBGT rights is risky. Is it too strong to say that every group and individual with a grievance feels free to compare their plight to that of people-of-color’s? Everyone’s pain is real, absolutely and unequivocally, but the stories don’t always line up. My argument is illustrated by the two couples portrayed on the book jacket."
Trance by Debora Lidov, on Luna Luna Magazine                                                  "Debora Lidov’s short collection, Trance (Finishing Line Press, $14.49), contains poems of surprise, elegance, originality, wit, irony, beauty, dark humor, precision, pain, and lyricism. That is a long praise-list and could set up a reader for impossibly elevated expectations, but the high-stakes’ focus of these poems makes anything less than a full layout of its attributes a little lame."
Cancer Angel by Beth Murray, at Lambda                                                             "Murray’s is poetry that makes the body holy, that illuminates the dark. Diagnosed with advanced breast cancer when she was in her forties, Murray didn’t “struggle with it”-–a phrase often used to frame cancer patients’ experience of the disease. This sharp poet sidesteps, well, more like leaps over sentimentality or cliché. The images can be searing. In “scar,” for instance, the defacement speaks for itself, literally and brazenly: “scar across my chest says have done battle// scar across my chest says have been cut.”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Poetry Squawks - at Indolent Books - a new weekly feature

from Harvard Museums' collection; what a beautiful squawking bird!; Jean-Baptiste Oudry, French, 1686-1755) 

The latest feature on the Indolent Books' website is a weekly-ish column - Poetry Squawk. A pretty great name, as is Indolent Books. In the column's first iteration, as "Writers on Writing," Poetry Squawk was intended to encourage poets to discuss means and methods native to their processes.

It still serves that function. But Michael Broder, Indolent's founder, broadened the scope of the column, if only by changing the name. Some squawks are loud. Here are links to a few poets' Squawks:

Jenna Lê's Secrecy and the Writing Life: "Like all kids who grow up to be writers, I was a daydreamer from the start."

Antoinette Brim's Why I Bury My Treasure: "I love trash T.V. Not the trash television of Kardashian fame. But, real trash—Flea Market Flip and Antiques Road Show trash—stuff found in dank basements."

B.B.P. Hosmillo's Towards an (Ins)Urgent Kind of Intimacy: "Once an American scholar in Japanese Studies shared a Japanese folktale with me."

To get Poetry Squawks delivered to your email, sign up on the Indolent site, here. Indolent Books is the publisher of Geographies of Soul and Taffeta, my second poetry collection.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Carley Moore: The Phenomenon of Ecstasy :: poem

The Phenomenon of Ecstasy

after Salvador Dali

If you lay the chair on its back it does not look like a woman.
If you push the chair back and remember me sitting in it,
it will remind you of a woman who was shaped by a chair.
When you sit on the chair you make the woman into
the ghost of the chair. When you leave the chair
on its back, you see the way my neck rested on
the edge of the bed. You see the way a chair that
has fallen becomes the liquid of the room.
You see the way the pushed chair lives outside of its shape.
Like the head that insists on the edge of the bed,
the fallen chair is not the reason we break.
The chair that has fallen on its side is not for you.
It is for the small kings who will use it like a carcass.
Best when warm, but best not seen.
The promise of the chair is that it will fall back
over and over again. The promise of the chair
is that it will be like my neck on the edge of the bed.
The chair is the promise of falling.
I am falling in chairs.
I am falling.
You are not the chair.

By Carley Moore.
First published in Painted Bride Quarterly, Issue 63.
All rights belong to Carley Moore.