December 19, 2009

since there is no god, you have to be both you and god

in reality, every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. the writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have experienced in himself.

-marcel proust

November 29, 2009

do i dare to eat a peach?

really, this poem is so much more awesome than the wasteland. ezra pound said that with the simile that compared the sky to "a patient etherized upon a table," modern poetry was changed forever. i love the lines where the speaker seems to unravel a bit: "The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,/ And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,/ When I am pinned and wriggling on a wall,/ Then how should I begin/ To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?/ And how should I presume?"
the whole poem is so mysterious. it's full of alienation and mobility, like you're walking through a haunted house and peeking inside each bizarre room. everything is anthropomorphized. love song? who is j. alfred prufrock?

i grow old. i grow old. i shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

November 16, 2009

he slit a zoo full of animals

something really special happened today.

i was reading arda collins' book on the metro north this morning. it was picked by louise glück (swoon) for the yale series of younger poets prize. as i was reading the book, i realized i really can't read exciting poetry in public anymore because i just want to jump up and down/punch myself in the knee/clap and make other weird noises. another thing i really want to do is grab people and say, "please let me read you this one poem!!!!!!!" on second thought, maybe i should just go ahead and grab the stranger and force him to hear the poem. maybe then people will stop with all this "i don't understand poetry" business. that would make a great documentary actually. me, reading strangers poems in public places, punching myself in the face because the poems are so good, and trying to redeem their poor souls. i'll be like one of those jesus guys on the subway. yeah!
but anyway... back to arda. i'd never read this book before, and let me tell you i was loving it. as i was reading it i kept thinking that i felt some connection to her, like we have a lot in common. then i got to a poem, and one part of it seriously blew my mind. she put a sandwich in her poem. BUT NOT JUST ANY SANDWICH. my staple, go to sandwich that i always get in delis when i can't get down with an egg and cheese. and i quote,
exciting indeed!!!!!! i was freaking out. i bounced up and down in my seat. i'm sure it was really embarrassing, but i didn't really notice. do you know that i love sandwiches? of course you do, because 1) everyone who reads this blog is probably my best friend, and 2) who doesn't love sandwiches!?!?!?! i have entire relationships built on the appreciation of the sandwich, as many of you know and have experienced first hand. and there it was. my preferred sandwich. in poetry form. look at how she pairs the sound of the "tomato" and the "mayo" and then also the the "swiss" and the "lettuce." from now on i will always order the sandwich by listing its components in the most poetic form i can think of. it was too much. it was all too much. other things arda and i have in common are that she is scared of her microwave and she hates showering (there i said it.) i am going to write to her and let her know that i love her book and i love her sandwich.

here's a poem.

It Is Daylight
by Arda Collins

I called my house from a pay phone
down the street before I went home.
I needed to check on the empty situation.
It was daylight,
still here.
My shadow looked large and unschooled.
The sidewalk was yellow in the sun.
I was thinking that I wasn't anyone
and that my future would be a trajectory
leading further away.
The lilacs were out. They looked like a detail
from a bucolic story or tableau
where people are naked, eating picnics,
grapes, kissing, and drinking wine
while playing musical instruments. It seems made up,
but it's not. It must be based on a world
something like the one that's here while I'm walking.
Many houses are abutted by hedges.
I don't like this, but I wouldn't take them away.
The hedges are often surrounded by beds of woodchips.
The sight of them is a silent story about the dead.
I was filled with yearning
to sit against the side of the house
between two hedges.
I don't know how to pray but I would try.
I felt somber and excited about to go into my house.

Some people come down the street.
They're very dressed up.
I can see them from my bedroom window.
My house is quiet,
as though it isn't mine
but was given to me
by something other than myself.
The dressed up people cross the street
and walk under the lilac trees.
They look very nice and awful. The young woman
wears a peach dress with cream-colored heels.
She's with a young man wearing a dark blue suit
and a turquoise shirt. How unfortunate
that they have to go out in the daylight
and see themselves
out among trees, streets, and open sounds.
Walking through my house, I love the doors
best. Waking up the other day I went downstairs
and banged my face into the doorframe
of a closet. It hurt. It was an accident,
but I ended up in tears.
Now with this bump on my forehead,
I'm grateful.
I wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, vacuum.
Over the course of several days
I feel satisfied that my apologies have run themselves out.
I don't know when it's time to stop
but eventually I do, and I do other things.

November 15, 2009

for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you

today i went to a free poetry workshop in the bronx. the workshops are every sunday, and you don't have to sign up in advance, or any silliness like that, which i like. they also come across really great people to teach them. the workshops are mostly for generative purposes, meaning the teacher throws out exercises or prompts and you work on those. i'd never been to one before, because i kind of figure i get all the poetry i really need up at sarah lawrence, but i have two poems "due" on tuesday and hadn't written any, so i figured this was a good time. and you know, i did write and it was a good group and all, but one thing was sort of strange to me.

in the beginning of the workshop the teacher passed out index cards and we each had to write one secret that related to ourselves or not, one secret that did relate to ourselves, and one thing that we're afraid of. so then we passed them back in and he read them aloud, but before he read them aloud, he told us to write down the ones that we found striking as we heard them. so we did. and then afterwards he told us to write starting from the lines we liked.

now WAIT A MINUTE. this was weird. the poem that i wrote didn't end up using any of the lines that i had heard off the index cards but some people who read their poems at the end had my lines in them, and i didn't like it. all of a sudden you see your "secret" in someone else's poem, but also, like, fuck! that's my line motherfucker!
yeah, alright. it's ok because everyone took what they took and made it their own, but i had a sort of uncomfortable feeling about the whole thing. like i just wrote down three lines for other people to steal them. whatever.
i know poetry is all about stealing. i steal all the time. sometimes my friends say things that wind up in my poems, but i only do this to my nonpoet friends, because whatever, it's not like they were gonna write a poem anyway. and we steal from the world don't we? blah blah blah BLAH.

the lesson is obviously that the only thing you should ever steal is a hamburger, and even then, even then, man.

happy 50th blog post, you guyz!

November 9, 2009

my vocabulary did this to me

poems in levi's commercials!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
poems in the newspaper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
it's all happening, you guys!!!

poetry is trickling its way into the lives of many. the ny times op-ed asked nine poets to write something inspired by the fall of the berlin wall, which was 20 years ago today. i like this trend of poetry as a means to communicate about history/current events.

check out the poems here.

November 4, 2009

each year harder to live within, each year harder to live without

anyone happen to catch this article by daniel nester? it's about poets in new york city. siiiiigh.

what nester writes about is his own experience as a young poet in new york. basically his bubble burst. he moved out of new york and stopped writing poetry. and who does he blame for this? other new york poets. siiiiiigh.

here's what i think. i think he shouldn't project his own experience onto every other poet living in new york. i think he blames the fact that he stopped writing poetry on the social scene that surrounded it, but why should you renounce poetry because of the social scene that surroundsit in one city? here is one part of the article that got to me:

"In New York, it is a self-licking ice cream cone that depends on untalented poets to keep the system going. The more paranoid poets regarded their skills as a threat to those toward the bottom of the Ponzi scheme, whose worship of higher-ups were not adequate enough to rise a level on the Poetry Chain of Being."

um, ouch? and also, what? can you really just say that about Poetry In New York? wait, self-licking ice cream cone? is that some kind of, uh, euphemism?

"I wanted to embody what one of my heroes, Allen Ginsberg, called candor; I wanted to give Too Much Information. But TMI was out of fashion; what was in fashion was aloof disengagement.... So I became a mimic, lived in fragments, forged together lines like everyone else was doing, played word games, engaged in what Keats calls, "unpleasantness without exciting any momentous depth of speculation," and crossed my fingers, hoped I would pass as one of them."

i believe it was rilke, and probably a lot of other poets, who said that you don't become a poet because you want to, you do it because you have to. i know that this is a romantic notion, but it also makes complete sense to me. so i have to conclude that daniel nester was never a poet. i think he really, really wanted to fit in with the new york poetry scene, but ultimately couldn't make a space for himself, and he blames it on the "scene" because his poetry wasn't trendy enough. basically because his poetry was meaningless, and he was trying to be like everyone else, it must mean everyone else's poetry was meaningless. a likely story, nester.

so he moved out of new york. problem solved, right? get on with the program! no, he still stopped writing. of course the new york poetry scene is frustrating. have you been to the bowery poetry club lately? sometimes i just want to shudder, other times it's great. when i go there, i just like to listen. talking to people is hard. i have to put on a poetry mask and everything i say through the mask has to sound imaginative and fresh. siiiiiiigh. but then you see them get up there and do an open mic, and it's oh yeah, why did i care about impressing these people in the first place?

the thing is, real poets are freaks. the good ones, in my experience, always seem the most socially awkward and twisted. so why get hung up on what it's like to go to a bar with other poets? i'm looking to insert some clever joke here about poets walking into a bar...

3 poets walk into a bar and start to cry....
2 poets walk into a bar. first poet says "i'll have a beer." second poet says "i'll have a scotch." bartender (also a poet) says, "nice anaphora."

ok, these are terrible. someone throw out some good poets in bar jokes.

October 21, 2009

the ball poem

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over-there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking of grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his youth days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street,
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight,
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . .I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.

this is JB, but it's not one of the dream songs, like we talked about earlier. this is one of his early poems; before the sonnets, before the dream songs, before mrs. bradstreet. at this point he still wanted to be just like yeats. weird. i like that the grief "fixes the boy." i like the end of this poem where the narrative unravels, and suddenly the poem is in first person. everything dissolves, there's water, the ball is "out of sight," we are not talking about a ball anymore; "i am not a little boy."

could not life continue on earth without wind or must everything tremble, always, always?


October 11, 2009

i'll die. i won't die.

so, it seems to me that a lot of people like to tell young writers who are just starting out, just learning, that in order to become a better writer you have to write everyday.


okay, wait.

i want to believe that the more you write, the better you get. i want to believe that there's a clear cut path to getting better, and i want to be on that path. especially when the people who endorse that path are people that i really really admire, like lorrie moore and many others. and you know, i do believe it. i believe that if you write everyday you will become a better writer. i mean, why wouldn't you? but i don't write everyday, and as a teacher told me sophomore year, we do not live in a writer's world. what she meant by this is that everything in our environment prevents writing. i realized this was true. even ipods stop me from writing. not paper writing, but thought writing. the kind where you come up with lines, sentences, what have you, in your head while just walking around or riding the train (these two activities currently take up 98% of my time.) you spend that time walking around with someone else's words in your head instead of your own, and it gets in the way.

the other tough thing about writing is that no one really cares if you do it. i don't mean this in any kind of self-effacing way, but really. no one cares. if you stop writing, no one really cares. i have a lot of friends who write, a lot of friends who i care about deeply. but if they stopped writing, no. i wouldn't care. and i don't think that they would care if i stopped writing. and i don't think my teachers would care if i stopped writing. and after a few years, i probably wouldn't care either and THAT IS A SCARY SCARY THOUGHT. writing is very fragile. luckily i live with a writer, one of the ones i care about, who understands and lets me eat her left over spring rolls while i complain when i get home from work, and i know we're all afraid.

i want to do a better job as a writer. i haven't been "showing up for myself", as a teacher put it freshman year. i went to talk to this teacher about my situation, and after i explained in a convoluted, "oh it's not a big deal, whatever, you knowww," but actually pretty concerned way, he advised me to go look for it.

so maybe the way you look for it is by writing. and how you write reflects how you're looking. sometimes writing is something that's lost like your keys, and you HAVE TO FIND IT RIGHT NOW or else you can't leave the house, and you're frustrated and you're making so many piles in order to find it. other times i think it's lost like a shirt that you want to wear, but you can't find it so you just watch 8 episodes of 30 rock, i mean, uh, wear a different shirt. other times, it finds you and this feels like a snow day. like class getting cancelled. like an accident. and then you're not sure how it happened, or if it will ever happen again.

September 30, 2009


i really have a lot more to tell you about louise glück.
i've long been in search of information on her personal life as not told by poems, and i looked for this where else but the internet, which yielded nothing. then yesterday my friend natalie gave me the best present ever: a personal essay written by louise glück on her life/development as a writer. i purposely say writer instead of poet because as she writes, "'poet' must be used cautiously; it names an aspiration, not an occupation." the essay is full of pithy statements such as this one. also, so you know, it's called "education of the poet" and it's from a book of essays that she published under the title "proofs and theories." this particular essay is the only one i've looked at. the essay was an actual lecture that she delivered at the guggenheim museum in 1989.

personal biography aside, glück gets to some things about the torment known as the writing process:

"it is very strange to want so much what cannot be achieved in life. the high jumper knows, at the instant after performance, how high he has been; his achievement can be measured both immediately and with precision. but for those of us attempting dialogue with the great dead, it isn't a matter of waiting: the judgement we wait for is made by the unborn; we can never in our lifetimes know it.
the profundity of our ignorance concerning the merit of what we do creates despair, it also fuels hope."

i could quote this essay all day at you, but what i'm gonna do instead is just jump ahead to my favorite part and then go to sleep. i think it calls for proper capitalization.

"I remember an argument I had with someone's mother when I was eight or nine; it was her day for carpool duty and our assignment in school had involved composition. I'd written a poem, and was asked to recite it, which I readily did. My special triumph with this poem had involved a metrical reversal in the last line (not that I called it that), an omission of the final rhyme: to my ear it was exhilarating, a kind of explosion of form. The form, of course, was doggerel. In any case, our driver congratulated me: a very good poem, she said, right till the last line, which she then proceeded to rearrange aloud into the order I had explicitly intended to violate. You see, she told me, all that was missing was that last rhyme. I was furious, and especially furious in that I knew my objections would read as defensive response to obvious failure."

September 22, 2009

i cannot care forever

the word sentimentality stirs a lot of negative connotations, especially when we're talking about poetry. i would never want someone to read a poem of mine and say, "oh, how sentimental." i guess i'm thinking about this because i just got a paper back from a teacher who said to me "what a personal essay, this must have been hard for you to write." WAIT, ACTUALLY, i didn't really think it was that personal and it wasn't that hard for me to write, but now i'm just gonna turn red and back out of your office while saying "see you in class" like 40 times. so yeah, i didn't like that. but WHY didn't i like that? the teacher did not mean that it was bad or wrong, she was telling me she enjoyed it, but i still felt like i'd written something too "emotional" and that "emotional" really means BAD.

sentimentality and personal are very very not the same. for example, let me refer you back to our friend louise, who is real personal, but not real sentimental. she seems kinda freaky in that way though, right? right. but i dig her filtration system. her poems are clean, linear, and what she makes is the opposite of sentimentality.

questions for you, reader: is sentimentality the same as emotional? is sentimental writing bad? always? really?

moving on, some people do sentimentality right. i would in this case point to pablo neruda, and one of his poems from his book "20 love poems and a song of despair." yikes, love poems. that's a dangerous edge to walk on. anyway, there's one i really appreciate, which you have probably read/at least heard the line "love is so short, forgetting is so long." yeah, that line is from this poem, which is great. AND sentimental, at least according to my definition of sentimental. and speaking of definitions of sentimental here's something interesting. sentimental is defined as "of or prompted by feelings of tenderness sadness or nostalgia." but sentimenality is defined as "excessive tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia." EXCESSIVE!!!!!!! what, how'd we get to be excessive?? but anyway, i think that's where that negative connotation hales from. because no matter what's going on in your writing, surely you never want someone to call you "excessive."

September 20, 2009

so, say it really happened. that doesn't mean

"synonyms do not exist." - donald hall

September 16, 2009

no one could write a novel about this family: too many similar characters

i think we should discuss louise glück. brace yourself.

Lost Love

My sister spent a whole life in the earth.
She was born, she died.
In between,
not one alert look, not one sentence.

She did what babies do,
she cried. But she didn't want to be fed.
Still, my mother held her, trying to change
first fate, then history.

Something did change: when my sister died,
my mother's heart became
very cold, very rigid,
like a tiny pendant of iron.

Then it seemed to me my sister's body
was a magnet. I could feel it draw
my mother's heart into the earth,
so it would grow.

there are a couple reasons that i like louise. FIRST: she's a sarah lawrence girl. rad. second of all, the voice is incredibly straightforward. so straightforward that it is, in fact, alarming. and lord knows i love to be alarmed. i enjoy her darkness the way i enjoy todd solondz movies. the detachment of this voice is so... accurate? it characterizes so much that is beyond the poem. do i hear pity? and what about the end, where the mother's heart is drawn under ground, away from her still living child, and it flourishes. what of that?
last night i remembered how to write poetry after having not done it for a while. i remembered that before anything goes down on the page, there must be emotion attached to it. but then i look at this poem. and where is her emotion on the page? it's like she's not even there. and yet i'm reacting. but is my reaction emotional? not really. i would characterize it as voyeuristic. the poem is displayed through a very very very very filtered lense. she's bold. the writing reflects the physical nature of the mother's heart, "cold and rigid," not to mention the rigidness that we would associate with you know, dead babies.
this poem is a good example of what you can expect from glück. these particular poems are from her book, ararat, which if you're in the market for poetry, i really recommend owning, so that can submerge in it and live life from under the water.

one more!

Brown Circle

My mother wants to know
why, if I hate
family so much,
I went ahead and
had one. I don't
answer my mother.
What I hated
was being a child,
having no choice about
what people I loved.

I don't love my son
the way I meant to love him.
I thought I'd be
the lover of orchids who finds
red trillium growing
in the pine shade, and doesn't
touch it, doesn't need
to possess it. What I am
is the scientist,
who comes to that flower
with a magnifying glass
and doesn't leave, though
the sun burns a brown
circle of grass around
the flower. Which is
more or less the way
my mother loved me.

I must learn
to forgive my mother,
now that I'm helpless
to spare my son.

September 9, 2009


when my head hurts i don't need a doctor to tell me why;
i know it's because there's nowhere to put it. where it's put
dissolves, and then there is my head, scorching, freezing,
dripping against a simple insistence on temporary limits.
today was just so. i felt such revulsion looking at my fries,
each one exposed so much like myself, but even needier,
trusting me, my head, belly, for shelter. There's no shelter
here, friends

August 30, 2009

this is why we wake up late at night and light up the candles of our tv sets

i'm going through a thing right now with valzhyna mort. i discovered her for the first time two weeks ago when she read with cynthia cruz at the central park zoo. she has an awesome reading voice and the best hair cut. i bought her book, factory of tears, and although i have read it almost every day since then, i've only read three poems in it. they're just too good and i'm not ready to move on. we'll talk more when i've read the whole book.

what i would actually like to talk about is capitalization, you know, of letters, and how it is completely absent from 1. this blog & 2. the three poems i've read in mort's book.
i never thought about why i don't use capital letters for informal writing on the internet. it just seemed less... formal, and then became habit. one thing i like about words is that we visualize them when we hear them or speak them. if nothing else, sometimes i say a word and visualize how it's spelled. the less i used capital letters, the more i came to visualize my spoken words without them. so when i read these poems, i try to understand how valzhyna mort made that choice.

read it.

Music of Locusts
by Valzhyna Mort

what i wouldn't give

to be a small freckle on the wind's nose
to ride in a convertible
beside a middle-aged man
a teenager will do

it's as if everything that has happened
is nothing but Security which you have to pass through
in order to get into summer
god tossed a heart like a coin
inside me
as if i were a pond
he made a wish
and lingered in the air
and everything belongs to me but hope

the mountains are kneeling like runners at the starting line
their green t-shirts billowing in the wind
then they are gigantic tortoises

he will offer to leave me

the color of his skin is
like the color of the sun at dusk
and the road is parting in front of the wheels
like an army of locusts as it rushes ahead of us

like god's stray eyelashes
the stars are falling- more light! more!
god has no time to make a wish
all he can do is cry out faster! faster!

it's impossible to fall asleep next to this man
at night all that's left of my body
is the music of locusts

August 21, 2009

we ourselves flash and yearn

i have a feeling this blog is going to turn into a parade of cool shit that my roommate shows me. i've never really blogged about john berryman, but he is my favorite poet. berryman is the author of the "dream songs." for these poems berryman created a protagonist, henry, a character that he described as a middle aged man who has "suffered an irreversible loss." there are other characters as well, but yadda yadda yadda you should look into it for yourself, and then you should call me because i always want to talk about jb. the vision/language for the dream songs was conceived by berryman through his dreams, duh. BUT the poems do not reflect the dream-like state, nor are they a stream of consciousness. instead they are intricately constructed. i think that he used his dreams less as subject matter and more as a method of research. when i say research i mean that he was able to access his deepest and truest feelings in dreams, because he felt that it was the least inhibited state.
anyway, my roommate showed me john berryman READING. on YOUTUBE. i don't know how i never thought to look for that. i've always hated that i can never see my favorite poet read (he jumped off the washington avenue bridge in minnesota in 1972.) it's truly amazing to watch him read and hear his voice, and understand how the poems sounded inside of his head.

August 19, 2009

they took away his teeth, white & helpful

poetry friends are the best because you get to bond over something that pretty much no one else wants to talk about. plus you can read each other's poems and say more than "cool, i like this one."
recently i moved into an apartment with the great meghann plunkett, a long time poetry friend. so far the perks are that we've been able to vent our frustration about the shitty poetry selections at most bookstores, like the goddamn strand. we also have access to each other's books. this is mostly to my benefit because meghann has way way way more books in this apartment than i do.
when we're feeling groovy we work on wordy art projects.

my roommate found this book in the trash. it's about animals. enjoy my nails.

then meghann started doing erasure on the pages to make poems, then she illustrated over the words that were erased.
it says "the flocks of tiny/giraffes,/with/their/purplish/birdseed,/a silvery dream/melt away/ the nighttime,/parade/to/water/sparks/and/sometimes/another dimension/is/bottomless/ under/ the/ helpless motion."

then our friend natalie made one.
"water-stalk/daytime/hot/loaded/vinyl/on/inner/drop/from a beach/of basking/I/drift/up/slowly/solid/filling/landscape/the gun/pebbleworm-/some muggers/uhhhhhhh shhlushleeeee uhhhhhh/-a beauty/mud pack/forever./glamorous goo"

i made this one when i was feelin prett-ay groovy.
"swine to poachers/ world-record rhinos/long/silver/lions/monkey-eating/ill-tempered/exotic secretary/cameras were busy/An Eighty-Foot Fall/far/unmistakable/giant ventriloquists/Somewhere/eyeballs/closer to/ GNAASHAHRRRRR/crouched low,"

my girl stephanie made this funky one.
"the hunter/gliding/Breathing/close-up/scraped/downhill/Distance okay/Beads of sweat/ I could see nothing/Years/just/my head/freaking,"

we also wrote some group poems recently but i'm feeling too shy to post them just yet.

August 16, 2009

this post sponsored and brought to you by solitude

say the word 'fond' over and over and observe as it loses all meaning.


July 24, 2009

my lass is breaking, my brass is aching

sylvia plath's copy of the great gatsby

i don't know why, but i get the distinct feeling that sylvia might be embarrassed by the reveal of her choice of underlined passages. maybe it's because recently my friend nabbed my copy of perks of being a wallflower (from a give away pile, i swear) from my room and told me i'd underlined much of it back in the day. how embarrassing. there's something personal about what we underline in books. remember in wuthering heights, when lockwood reads catherine's bible, and she's written mad things in the margins? by reading her notes he's basically reading her diary and then it awakens her ghost. bam.

July 23, 2009

a glass ladder where each rung has a different horizon inside

nobody updates their blog enough for my liking, least of all me. i'm gonna try to step up 2 it.

a few years ago, on a smokey backyard summer night, some of my friends had an idea for an exhibit featuring an enlarged, crawl-through birth canal. you know, kind of like the giant heart exhibit in philadelphia. then someone said something like "duuuude, philip glass haaasss to be playing as you crawl through."

matthea harvey and philip glass recently collaborated, and let me tell you, i'm glad to see philip glass collaborate with a poet instead of an oversized reconstruction of the birthing experience from the fetus' perspective.

poems and stunning music! this is so awesome! and i'm so jealous! of everyone!

you can listen to it here. there's a short explanation of the process. the music came first, and then matthea wrote the words to go over it. she was inspired by the composer's name, as well as his music, and ended up writing about... glass! cool. it's beautiful, really.
she also mentions a project in which she wrote poems and used images as titles. i'm planning to steal this idea, so, yeah, watch out for that.

July 7, 2009


OMG WTF POEMS TO SELL JEANS WITH. i smell a get rich quick scheme.

July 3, 2009

but what are you going to do with the hot dogs?

my mom watched the real housewives of new jersey with extreme dedication. i didn't get too into the show; i caught a few episodes when it happened to be on, and it did not fail to entertain. my mother on the other hand is an enthusiast. she digitally recorded most of the episodes, and often walks around quoting the show and then cackling to herself.

then she really lost it.

here: my mother's poem.

Poem for New Jersey
I am paying attention.
Obviously, there has to be something else.
It's not just name change and arrested.
There has to be something else.
Are you stripping?
Prostitution whore!
You were fucking engaged 19 times!
You fucking stupid bitch!
Don't fucking tell me I'm fucking airheaded and stupid.
Because that's what pissed me off
And then tell me to fucking pay attention.
She doesn't know who the fuck she's fucking with.
And I have no fucking skeletons
In my fucking closet,
Thank you very much.
Thank you.
Thank you.

June 22, 2009

you are the hottest one for years of night


We are five friends, one day we came out of a house one after the other, first one came and placed himself beside the gate, then the second came, or rather he glided through the gate like a little ball of quicksilver, and placed himself near the first one, then came the third, the the fourth, then the fifth. Finally we all stood in a row. People began to notice us, they pointed at us and said: Those five just came out of that house. Since then we have been living together; it would be a peaceful life if it weren't for a sixth one continually trying to interfere. He doesn't do us any harm, but he annoys us, and that is harm enough; why does he intrude where he is not wanted? We don't know him and don't want him to join us. There was a time of course, when the five of us did not know one another, either; and it could be said that we still don't know one another, but what is possible and can be tolerated by the five of us is not possible and cannot be tolerated with this sixth one. In any case we are five and don't want to be six. And what is the point of this continual being together anyhow? It is also pointless for the five of us, but here we are together and will remain together; a new combination, however, we do not want, just because of our experiences. But how is one going to make all this clear to the sixth one? Long explanations would almost amount to accepting him in our circle, so we prefer not to explain and not to accept him. No matter how he pouts his lips when we push him away with our elbows, but however much we push him away, back he comes.


June 16, 2009

ever to confess you're bored means you have no inner resources

"and in class we played this game called 'the dead poets game.' you pick up a card with a dead poet on it and you have to make a hand motion to explain how the poet died. so if you sweep your hand backwards it means the poet tripped and fell."

recently overheard by yours truly. this is straight out of a todd solondz movie if you ask me.

last fall my class had to write the "biography" of a word. my teacher's intention was that we would get to know the word. sometimes reading a definition makes all the difference. i chose the word 'isolate.'

isolate, v, 1. to place or set apart or alone; to cause to stand alone, detached, separate, or unconnected with other things or persons; to insulate

lately the word 'sycophant' has been lurking in and around my ear.

sycophant, n, 1. a self-seeking, servile flatterer, fawning parasite.

is it just me or is that a confusing definition? killer s-es, though.

reading the dictionary is fun.

fun, n, 1. something that provides mirth or amusement
adj, of or pertaining to fun.

synonyms: absurdity, blast, buffoonery, cheer, distraction, foolery, picnic, solace, treat
antonyms: sadness, work

we need a picture

there we go!

June 7, 2009

June 1, 2009


nothing to do with poetry but TOO AWESOME TO WITHHOLD, you know?

May 31, 2009

beer shit

charles bukowski is kind of an asshole. he produced plenty of terrible poetry himself, not to mention the fact that he wrote the same novel over and over again. on the other hand, he is sort of a master of the 'rad scene.' but i cannot stand idly by while he drunkenly denounces no one in particular (except tolstoy i guess) and yet everyone all at once, while maintaining an appreciation for none other than the sight of his own beer shit floating, then escaping through the toilet bowel (although, what can i say, i do think that the way he describes it is lovely)

even though he's pissing me off right now, here's a nice (but devastating, sorry) poem by the man:

Alone With Everybody

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
and nobody ever finds the
but keep
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than 

there's no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else

May 26, 2009

slow dance by matthew dickman

More than putting another man on the moon, 
more than a New Year's resolution of yogurt and yoga,
we need the opportunity to dance
with really exquisite strangers. A slow dance
between the couch and the dining room table, at the end
of the party, while the person we love has gone
to bring the car around
because it's begun to rain and would break their heart
if any part of us got wet. A slow dance
to bring the evening home, to knock it out of the park. Two people
rocking back and forth like a buoy. Nothing extravagant.
A little music. An empty bottle of whiskey.
It's a little like cheating. Your head resting
on his shoulder, your breath moving up his neck.
our hands along her spine. Her hips
unfolding like a cotton napkin
and you begin to think about how all the stars in the sky
are dead. The my body
is talking to your body slow dance. The Unchained Melody,
Stairway to Heaven, power-cord slow dance. All my life
I've made mistakes. Small
and cruel. I made my plans. 
I never arrived. I ate my food. I drank my wine.
The slow dance doesn't care. It's all kindness like children
before they turn four. Like being held in the arms
of my brother. The slow dance of siblings.
Two men in the middle of the room. When I dance with him, 
one of my great loves, he is absolutely human,
and when he turns to dip me
or I step on his foot because we are both leading,
I know that one of us will die first and the other will suffer.
The slow dance of what's to come
and the slow dance of insomnia
pouring across the floor like bath water.
When the woman I'm sleeping with
stands naked in the bathroom, 
brushing her teeth, the slow dance of ritual is being spit
into the sink. There is no one to save us
because there is no one to be saved.
I've hurt you. I've loved you. I've mowed
the front yard. When the stranger wearing a sheer white dress
covered in a million beads
comes toward me like an over-sexed chandelier suddenly come to life, 
I take her hand in mine. I spin her out
and bring her in. This is the almond grove
in the dark slow dance.
It is what we should be doing right now. Scrapping
for joy. The haiku and honey. The orange and orangoutang slow dance.

bolded the best parts. 

it's a town for losers, i'm pullin' out of here to wiiiiinnnnnnn!!!

i totally jumped ship on this blog. however, i just started a summer course, which means i'm procrastinating again and spending my loser time on the loser internet instead of BBQ-in' and pokin' smot in the NJ sunshine. 

so here's what's been on my poetry mind lately:
bruce springsteen is the contemporary walt whitman (oh yeah, also, i became completely obsessed with walter whitman.) allow me to convince you:
1) the boisterous, celebratory voice of the people. think: "in the days we sweat it out of the streets of a runaway american dream." think: "my respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart/ the passing of blood and air through my lungs."
3) sex. walt whitman wanted to be this masculine sexual powerhouse, but actually he was real feminine a lotta the time. he def had the sex part down though. bruce on the other hand did embody this masculinity and projected it like a neon sign. (think: the boss) lay it on me, the both of youz.
4) sometimes it's not all optimism and exclamation points. think: the river. think: when lilacs last in the doorway bloomed. 
5) last but definitely not least, they are both from nj!! cool!!!

anyway, i'm totally looking to develop this further. so watch out, radioactive man.

what else? my crush on the dickman twins rages on. is this blogworthy? (nah) i was gonna buy both their books like two days ago, but i don't have a job and have no cash to buy poems.

see you on the internet kids.

May 8, 2009

i see the devil's head, people, i see his whole body

When I became Poet Laureate, the first people to interview me were the big television stations: ABC, NBC, the usual places. The reporters would say, “How’s it being a poet laureate in a country where nobody reads poetry?” I didn’t say what I wanted to say: “You’re full of shit.”  - Charles Simic

May 1, 2009

"hey frosty! you want some snow, man?"

on another note (what, this has everything to do with poetry) i can't stop watching devastatingly fucked up movies. gimme gimme more. 

April 27, 2009

found poem

"we are in no way, shape, or form should a human being play god." -  george w. bush

April 26, 2009

notes on a po fest

the poetry festival is like a holiday. it involves drinking around grown ups, feeling justified in not doing homework, spending tons of money (on books), and fun visitors.

- linda gregg was phenomenal. she is as awesome as her poems are. she drew lots of flowers all over her book when she signed it. she mentioned that she was never married to jack gilbert, but talked about him in between almost every poem. dig dig dig her.

- po fest crush: the dickman twins. damn cuties, how'd you get so good at writin' poems? they had different sounds, but were equally adorable. they read one poem together about their twinhood, one of my favorite moments of the weekend.

- dorianne laux and joseph millar: let me in that marriage today.


- anais mitchell, you're cool.

- mark doty and ck williams: this reading was amazing. i luv u poetry fest. 

PS back into walt whitman heavily don't worry.

April 21, 2009

devoured as spirit by spirit

wanna hear some poetry?

on friday at 8:15 p.m. i am reading in the slc poetry festival with poet linda gregg. she is rad. you can hear her read a poem here.
highlights include, but not limited to: "the nipples you bit and the body you possessed lie buried in you." ... dig you, linda gregg. 
anyway, if you don't come to see me & linda, at least come to see mark doty, matthew dickman, michael dickman, rita dove, jorie graham, ck williams(!!!!!), and more. 

it's free as hell and happening all weekend, so get down, and look forward to my detailed notes on the festival.

April 20, 2009

the way back by fady joudah

I know an axe and a turtle's shell.
I know the day I won

A silver watch in school
Then came home with my father

To tell my mother her mother had died.
I know the way

My mother slapped him
And let her nails

Linger. Bleeding.
He smiled to teach me:

We slap whom we love.
I know a boy and a turtle

Each time he held it, it withdrew.
And my aunt was a sea

And two borders removed.
I know the summer she spent waiting

For a visa, sitting in bed, knees
Bent to hold a book she was reading.

No one had told her
Her mother had died.

When she arrived
She smiled and kissed me.

I said nothing. She wailed and
My uncle slapped her once.

I know the sisters wanted
And the boy also wanted.

To see the body
Inside its shell.

There were shovels by the grave.
There was an axe in the garden.

April 19, 2009

the myth of heaven indicates peace and night

i hate walt whitman right now. am i allowed to say that? i just want to punch him in the face with all his cataloguing and optimism and exaggerations. i'm in the middle of a big walt project, so this is rather unfortunate.

w.s merwin had the right idea about whitman: 

"It's not a poetry that develops in a musical or intellectual sense. It doesn't move on and take a growing form- it repeats and finds more detail. That bothers me, but in particular it's his rhetorical insistence on an optimistic stance, which can be quite wonderful as a statement of momentary emotion; but as a world view and as a program for confronting existence, it bothered me when I was 18 and it bothers me now."

i don't have time for this.

April 13, 2009

would you two just do it and get it over with? i'm starving!

recently i watched two movies that totally blew my mind. the first was reality bites. i wish i understood how i've gone my entire life without seeing this movie. it feels like something i should have watched in 6th grade and then worshipped all through high school. whatever, better late than never u know.
the second movie is george washington, which i have seen before. i liked it the first time, but i had a way more intense experience with it this time around. that whole movie is like a poem to me. it's set up and presented so carefully. it's so beautiful. there's nothing extra. in the beginning of the movie there's a voice-over by one of the main characters that leads up to my favorite part:

"they used to try to find clues to all the mysteries and mistakes god had made. my friend george said that he was gonna live to be 100 years old. he said- he said that he was going to be the president of the united states.... the grown-ups in my town, they were never kids like me and my friends. they had worked in wars and built machines. it was hard for them to find their peace. don't you know how that feels? i like to go to beautiful places where there's waterfalls and empty fields. just places that are nice and calm and quiet."

on the word "waterfalls," the camera is moving, hovering, sweeping, what have you, above a train track. it works so well, the shot goes perfectly with each word. later there's a scene where a child opens a suitcase full of water and lets it pour out over a cliff. watch this movie.

movies are kind of a new thing for me. usually i'm not that into them. i realize this is sort of weird. i only like movies that are totally entertaining like jurassic park and face off, but i enjoy well-made ones from time to time, as long as they're not too obtuse, because i'll admit it, i really don't get that shit. recently i've been watching some good ones and i like it. please recommend some movies to me. good ones, not the bad ones.

when i started writing this it seemed like it had more to do with poetry, but

April 7, 2009

can i swing like tarzan in the jungle of your breathing?

cool, jeff!

will someone please animate one of my poems?

April 2, 2009

words are like a certain person: can't say what they mean, don't mean what they say

some words i've been interested in lately:

bacchanalia (woohoo!)

and u?

April 1, 2009

make nothing without words

happy poetry month, ya'll!

March 30, 2009

in a field, i am the absence of field

my friend becca recently made a list of songs that she could remember hearing for the first time. there aren't many songs that i can remember exactly when or where i first heard them. actually there are only two that come to mind: "you're so vain" by carly simon and "mahgeeta" by my morning jacket. 
poems on the other hand... there are tons. i guess that's because you have to actually sit down and participate, unlike a song that can creep its way into your awareness. i like poetry, and reading in general, really, because you have to be so present. and at the end, you look at this thing that you were so absorbed in and it's just ink on a page, not like a movie or a play or something else that pulls you in through an (awesome, but) much more elaborate structure.

here's some of the poems that i remember my first encounter with...

- the nails by w.s. merwin -- once at a reading someone requested that merwin read this poem, and he refused, saying that it was too painful to read aloud. don't read this poem if you're going through a break up. i'm jus' sayin'.
- keeping things whole by mark strand -- a teacher showed me this poem when i was taking a poetry class one summer in high school. it changed my idea of what a poem was. 
- directions to the brothel (click around, you'll find it... someone made a video that scared me when i watched it with the lights off.) by michael dumanis -- michael is the teacher who showed me keeping things whole
- 13th dream song by john berryman -- i can't believe i haven't done a berryman post on this blog yet. just wait. it's coming. 
- author's prayer by ilya kaminsky -- this link is sweet because you can hear him reading it. ilya is deaf and has a russian accent. he can be sort of hard to understand, so when he read at sarah lawrence he passed out copies of his book so that people could follow along with him. he reads like a rabbi and when everyone follows along it felt like a religious experience. 

uhhh i guess that's enough for now. you guys should read those poems. 
oh, also, i'm reading here (school) today (tuesday) at 8 pm, in slonim house. it's a 6x6 featuring 6 slc students and 6 students from columbia university, all reading for 6 minutes each. cute, right?

March 22, 2009

black shoe, in which i have lived like a foot

sylvia plath's son committed suicide this month. you can get quite a full story here. what feels odd for me, as the article reflects, is that this man's life seems overshadowed by his parents, more specifically the barrage of suicides that surrounded them. i think plath's career was overshadowed by her death. what i mean is that her death became more famous than her poems.
one of many things that i find strange about this article is the way that the author quotes the poetry of plath and hughes when talking about their son. that just seems so weird to quote poetry in an article as though it were some kind of personal statement or as if it pertains to anything concrete.

i resisted plath for a long time because i really just thought of her as a narcissistically depressed, one-note type poet. i became more interested in her when i heard two of her poems read theatrically this year at sarah lawrence. the first was "daddy" which may be her most famous poem. i  don't know what this poem does for me on the page, but when read aloud, by a guy no less, it was some freaky, freaky shit.
"lady lazarus" is the other. i have to say i enjoy this poem much more for the reason that it actually scares the bejeezus out of me. it's incredibly haunting. i love when a speaker can be totally vulnerable and remain on the offensive in a poem-- it's like the speaker doesn't compromise- sticks with a confident tone. 
the key line in "lady lazarus," the one that highlights intent and tone is "do i terrify?--" the dashes, as though there is some lingering silence after the question. as a reader, this is the first line where i feel the anxiety in this poem, and what i love about it, is that when it's asked, my internal response is not an automatic yes, but suddenly i am receiving the poem differently, understanding the speaker's tone differently. plath is a little more subtle than i initially gave her credit for. 

while on the subject of dead poets, read this poem by hayden carruth.


Both of us had been close 
to Joel, and at Joel's death
my friend had gone to the wake
and the memorial service
and more recently he had 
visited Joel's grave, there
at the back of the grassy
cemetery among the trees,
"a quiet, gentle place," he said,
"befitting Joel." And I said,
"What's the point of going
to look at graves?" I went 
into one of my celebrated
tirades. "People go to look
at the grave of Keats or Hart
Crane, they go traveling just to
do it. What a waste of time. 
What do they find there? Hell,
I wouldn't go look at the grave of
Shakespeare if it was just
down the street. I wouldn't 
look at-" And then I stopped. I
was about to say the grave of God
until I realized I'm looking at it
all the time....