Saturday, July 30, 2011

Milosz, carried by the waters of the river

Today is his birthday. I celebrate with a pleasing poem, pleasing, a pleaser, and true, true like colors, true like vision.


Faith is in you whenever you look
At a dewdrop or a floating leaf
And know that they are because they have to be.
Even if you close your eyes and dream up things
The world will remain as it has always been
And the leaf will be carried by the waters of the river.

You have faith also when you hurt your foot
Against a sharp rock and you know
That rocks are here to hurt our feet.
See the long shadow that is cast by the tree?
We and the flowers throw shadows on the earth.
What has no shadow has no strength to live.

Czeslaw Milosz, 1911–2004 (b. Poland; d. U.S.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I had two pairs of really cute black shoes. "On, Footwear," my short short, at Fiction at Work

from my short-short "On, Footwear" . . ." I had two pairs of really cute black shoes. To a party Saturday night I was going to wear one pair of my totally cute black shoes."
Fiction draws on life's grim realities. My dark moment came about ten years ago.  I walked to a party in my sneakers, my girly cute-shoes in my backpack.

Except I'd brought mismatched shoes. I suppose that some chronicle of history informs of a greater catastrophe occuring since woman first shod her feet, but at the time, I couldn't think of one worse blow.

Thanks to Fiction at Work (July 27, 2011) for accepting this riff which has seen divers (to use an Arabian Nights' version of the word) versions over the years. I, apparently, do not give up on anything I've written. Too bad I didn't have children, but, I didn't. I had stories and poems.

from my short-short "On, Footwear" . ."People said I was the life of the party, but deep inside I had two really cute shoes I could not wear."

COPYEDITOR'S NOTE:  regarding "pair" vs. "pairs" (I went with the editor's query to use "pairs" instead of "pair" in the first paragraph. But only because I thought that in a story so short, the reader's attention might be snagged on "two pair" in the first paragraph. The reader's attention trumps all, especially when all choices are correct. "Useage":
"When used without a modifier, pairs is the only possible plural: Pairs of skaters glided over the ice. When modified by a number, pairs is the more common form, especially referring to persons: Six pairs of masked dancers led the procession. The unmarked plural pair is used mainly in reference to inanimate objects or nonhumans: He has three pair (or pairs ) of loafers. Two pair (or pairs ) of barn owls have nested on our property." (July 27, 2011)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Subversion and Sidestepping: The e-chapbook's value (in this case, Paul Sohar's)

Here's a nifty e-chapbook. Most e-chapbooks, or at least those I've seen, are PDFs. They unfold on the screen, or so it seems, as a sort of magic simulacrum of print. Click here or there and pages are lifted and opened. It's a wonderful update of print, not necessarily (or by any means) superior, but it works.

The Wayward Orchard by Hungarian-born Paul Sohar is, as published by Wordrunner Electronic Chapbooks, more of a dedicated literary journal than a chapbook, a one-person show (worth viewing). Below the artwork of the cover lies the table of contents, which is clickable. Once a poem's read its sisters on left-side navigable. A PDF can also be downloaded.

Sohar is a poet worth reading, know that, although in this posting I'm more commenting on form than content. Please don't think faint praise. Please think, I want to check that out! And delight in the cyber possibility of subversion by not relying on traditional publishing, and the sidestep of clearcuts, by not relying on trees.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Proust on Skates (not roller)

(That's a Mendini Proust chair. Link below.)

I grabbed Anthony Hecht's Flight Among the Tombs from off library shelves a few weeks ago, thumbed through and landed on "Proust on Skates." I liked the poem for its biographical fiction, its lovely rendering of the most horizontal or writers momentarily vertical. Its formal control, something I don't aim for in my poetry but admire.

Oddly simultaneous with my reading of Hecht, I saw this comment from poet and critic Dan Chiasson, who writes, "Anthony Hecht, to me the most wearisome of plausible poets."

On the one hand, I admit that as I read other poems in the collection I wasn't impressed or drawn in, although to see my thoughts voiced so vigorously gives me pause. Anyway, here's the poem I did admire.

Proust on Skates

He stayed in bed, and at the beginning of October still wasn’t getting up till two in the afternoon. But he made a seventy-mile journey to Chamonix to join Albu [Louis Albufera] and Louisa [de Mornand, Albufera's beautiful mistress] on a mule-back excursion to Montanvert, where they went skating.    Ronald Hayman, Proust: A Biography

The alpine forest, like huddled throngs of mourners,
Black, hooded, silent, resign themselves to wait
As long as may be required;
A low pneumonia mist covers the glaciers,
Spruces are bathed in a cold sweat, the lat
Sun has long since expired.

Though barely risen, and the gray cast of the day
Is stark, unsentimental, and metallic.
Earth-stained and chimney-soiled
Snow upon path and post is here to stay,
Foundered in endless twilight, a poor relic
Of a once gladder world.

Spare café patrons can observe a few
Skaters skimming the polished soapstone lake,
A platform for their skill
At crosscut, grapevine, loops and curlicue,
Engelmann’s Star, embroideries that partake
Of talent, coaching, drill,

While a few tandem lovers, hand in hand,
Perform their pas de deux along the edges,
Oblivious, unconcerned.
This is a stony, vapor-haunted land
Of granite dusk, of wind sieved by the hedges,
Their brances braced and thorned.

Escaped from the city’s politics and fribble,
Hither has come an odd party of three,
Braided by silken ties:
With holiday abandon, the young couple
Have retreated into the deep privacy
Of one another’s eyes,

While the third, who in different ways yet loves them both,
Finds himself now, as usual, all alone,
And lacing on his skates,
Steadies himself, cautiously issues forth
Into the midst of strangers and his own
Interior debates.

Sweatered and mufflered to protect the weak
And lacey branches of his bronchial tree
From the fine-particled threat
Of the moist air, he curves in an oblique
And gentle gradient, floating swift and free –
No danseur noble, and yet

He glides with a gaining confidence, inscribes
Tentative passages, thinks again, backtracks,
Comes to the minute point,
Then wheels about in widening sweeps and lobes,
Larger Palmer cursives and smooth entrelacs,
Preoccupied, intent

On a subtle, long-drawn style and pliant script
Incised with twin steel blades and qualified
Perfectly to express,
With arms flung wide or gloved hands firmly gripped
Behind his back, attentively, clear-eyed,
A glancing happiness.

It will not last, that happiness; nothing lasts;
But will reduce in time to the clear brew
Of simmering memory
Nourished by shadowy gardens, music, guests,
Childhood affections, and, of Delft, a view
Steeped in a sip of tea.

Anthony Hecht, from Flight Among the Tombs (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

N.Y.C. + L.A. I am a New Yorkaleno.

I'm like one of those funny male caricatures who claim to love all women. Like Christopher Walken's The Continental.

Hear me: Skinny, fat, Page Six-reader, Anatomy of Melancholy-memorizer, I love them all. Whether they smell like dead rat topped by spoiled gefilte fish and Limburger cheese or Chanel 19 from a Rodeo Drive atomizer, Thank You to Both.

It may entail a twenty minute walk to find a cup of coffee and wi fi. The coffee, the wifi, a grocery, a health food store, post office and five thrift shops may be in a three-block radius. Mmmmmwah youse.

The time-consuming stretch may be gorgeous. The 3-blocks stinky and without enough sunlight. You're my honeys, both of ya.

Intellect everywhere. Great art everywhere. Rapid transit everywhere. What to do.

I'm a New Yorkaleno. A poet who loves New York AND Los Angeles, a New Yorker and an Angeleno. It's a cruel fate for the underly employed, the dirty lucre-challenged but there you have. I should open a New Yorkaleno Cafe. Everyone would have to wear breezey shirts, have beautiful welcoming smiles (L.A.) and be agressive and team-spirited (N.Y.).

Well, that's that.  Name it, claim it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Acceptance. A Writer's Life

I gave a sort of impromptu talk today on art as career. How I ended up talking to that particular group of people is another story.

What interests me greatly in this story came when my mostly new friends were giving feedback. A few used the word humble. They didn't mean to say I was being humble about my achievements. I wasn't. My achievements are mere within the world of poets and that's that.

No. "Humble" was not, in fact, the correct word. What was meant and admired in me was my acceptance. "Acceptance." I don't need to be Wm. Butler Yeats or Elizabeth Bishop. I would love to be Rita Dove because that woman can tango, but I don't need to be her, either.

I want to publish my novel. I don't need it to be the great American. It's not. It's entertaining. That's enough. I will continue to publish poems and stories.

A few days ago a woman friended me on Facebook and commented she really liked my poem, "This Flesh Divine," published in Numinous in 2008. Yowza. That was three years ago. How wonderful. How satisfying. My writing hits a few in the right place and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Online-ification of Tender Beauty (Boston Review)

As an addendum to my previous posting about Boston Review (which published "From Love, Imagination" and "So Tender Beauty" in the July/August 2011 issue), both poems are online.

At least today. I'm cautious. This could be a *Poetry Wednesday* thing and the poems could disappear from the website until there's another Poetry Wednesday or until some other primitive urge strikes the diabolical editors of Boston Review. I don't know the decision-making process and haven't seen smoke rise from the chimney of their stoned quarters up there in ye-olde land (Boston).

I am in fact in love with each and every Boston Review editor but how sappy is that. 

TO READ MY POEMS, AT LEAST TODAY, JULY 13, 2011, GO H E R E FOR "So Tender Beauty" and h e r e for "From Love, Imagination."

Thank you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My poems "From Love, Imagination" & "So Tender Beauty" are in Boston Review

"As many bridges as I can walk / I have . . ." My poem "From Love, Imagination" opens with a narrator announcing affection for suspension of a sort. Maybe, like me, she's had friends stop the car so she could climb out and walk the bridge.

Poems expand the reality of their poets.

"A sign of your times, a rose-happy glow / enameled on dawn’s fingertips" has rosy-fingered dawn fresh from the manicurist. Or something. That's from "So Tender Beauty" which seems like a dream and ends in "spray of silvered light" and more.

Both are in the July/August issue of Boston Review, a journal with spine and pages.

Many thanks to Timothy Donnelley for selecting the poems. There was a span between submission and acceptance, acceptance and publication.  All worth the wait. I don't know that patience is a virtue, but it is slow joy, anticipation an agony equal to pleasure.

To subscribe to Boston Review, "a magazine of ideas" where ideas of the idiots in charge are challenged, go here:  Poetry, fiction, essays, politics, art.