Thursday, August 31, 2006


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I received the copy-edits for What's Written on the Body in the mail yesterday. David C. does such a fantastic job! I love getting the manuscript back full of little red marks, because I know it has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb. I discovered one poem had inadvertently been left out of the "final" version I had sent in, and so had to quickly paste it back in. Yikes. A few ideas for the cover have been presented, and I like one of them a lot. It's a little like being pregnant: things are starting to show. I've got a book (baby) on board!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Susan Rich's Cures Include Travel is hot of the press!

" From the boldly erotic to the elegiac --- Susan Rich gives us a collection of poems sensual yet exact in their language, generous in the range and power of their emotion."

J.M. Coetzee

"Susan Rich writes gorgeous lyrical poetry which so courageously tells us the truth about the world, tells us the world is much larger than we Americans usually like to admit. Her beautiful ear, her fierce attention to detail, her deeply human empathy inspire me and make me glad. I am glad, no --- thrilled --- that there exists such a unique and memorable voice writing today about the joys and grievances of our planet, writing with such charge in ideas and language."

Ilya Kaminsky

" I admired her talent years ago and this book makes it clear she has grown into a mature and accomplished poet."

Linda Pastan

Susan is a wonderful poet and friend. Find out more about her book at her websitePosted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New York, August 29, 2006—The Academy of American Poets and The Nation magazine are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, a $25,000 award for the most outstanding book of poems published in the United States in the previous year. The finalists, chosen from more than 150 entries, are:

Christian Barter, The Singers I Prefer (CavanKerry Press)
Jack Gilbert, Refusing Heaven (Knopf)
Dorianne Laux, Facts About the Moon (W.W. Norton)
Eleanor Lerman, Our Post Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande Press)
Ron Slate, The Incentive of the Maggot (Mariner Books)

I am especially pleased to see Ron and Dorianne's books on this list. I thought they were both excellent. I'd be happy to see either one win.


I guess this really doesn't say much, except that people are interested in a lot of different styles, and no one style really dominates. Thanks for playing.

Personal Lyric 26% 10
Other 18% 7
Disjunctive-elliptical 13% 5
Narrative 10% 4
Prose Poem 8% 3
Confessional 5% 2
Post-Confessional 5% 2
Mixed Genre Poetry-Nonfiction 5% 2
Language Poetry 3% 1
Formal Poetry 3% 1
Persona Poem 3% 1
Dream Poem 3% 1
Oulipo-Word Play 0% 0

total votes: 39

Sunday, August 27, 2006

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I've been reading lug your careless body out of the careful dusk, by Joshua Marie Wilkinson. It's a "poem in fragments" and won the Iowa Poetry Prize. I was intrigued by the interesting cover (see the vices on the knees), that Joshua grew up in Seattle ("Born and raised in Seattle's Haller Lake neighborhood . . ." which is very near our own Rebecca Loudon — must be something in the water there!), and that I recognized his name as someone Floating Bridge had published in one of our anthologies a couple of years ago (turns out a previous version of some of the fragments).

It's a really interesting book, very cinematic, I think, in that it sort of reads like you are watching a movie of short related/unrelated enigmatic scenes, that build by accumulation, rather than any linear story line. It's defintely a good read.

Here's a sample, from the section "Boy-Scatter, the Sleepier & the Sleepiest:"


If each story
depends upon the part
the teller forgets . . .

Boy-scatter, sleeping pill sleep.
A twisted out splinter from my neck in a dream.


One woman kicks another in the bus station waiting area,
racoons return through a crack in the fence.


Is that what you mean by forgiveness?
Didn't the sockets do their job?
Were you ready and dressed when they clicked open the trunk?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

What's Your Line?

Your title
Which Mode Is Most Interesting to You at the Current Moment?
Personal Lyric
Prose Poem
Mixed Genre Poetry-Nonfiction
Language Poetry
Oulipo-Word Play
Formal Poetry
Persona Poem
Dream Poem

Friday, August 25, 2006

from Blue Front


not as in pin, the kind that keeps the wheels
turning, and not the strip of land that marks
the border between two fields. unrelated
to link, as in chain, or by extension whatever
connects one part to another, and therefore
not a measure of chain, which in any
case is less than the span of a hand hold-
ing the reins, the rope, the hoe, or taking
something like justice into itself, as when
a captain turned judge and gave it his name.
that was before it lost its balance and crossed
the border, the massed body of undoers
claiming connection, relation, an intimate
right to the prized parts, to the body undone.

--Martha Collins

This is a really fascinating book, part lyric sequence, part historical non-fiction novel, about a mob lynching witnessed by her father in Cairo, Illinois, 1909. The subject matter is riveting, and a bit disturbing (more than a bit disturbing . . . I mean this is/was our own country, our racist bigoted past, from not that long ago). Highly recommended.
Had a nice lunch at Julia's yesterday with Rick Barot, who has been teaching at PLU in Tacoma. Such a sweet guy. (Despite having trained at the Iowa "death star" of poetry. ~grin~) I'd been shopping at Open Books beforehand, and had a stack of new books, including Martha Collin's amazing Blue Front, a sort of cross-genre poetry/non-fiction book exploring the events and history and people involved in one of the last public lynchings. Difficult material. Wonderful writing.

Then hosted poetry group at my house last night with Kathryn, Jeff, T, Ted, Susan. Good poems all around. Great fun and silliness and laughter and perhaps a little too much wine.

I work a half day today, and then have poetry lunch with Kathleen at Elysium. Wheeee!


from today's Word a Day:

tarantism (TAR-uhn-tiz-uhm) noun

An uncontrollable urge to dance.

[After Taranto, a town in southern Italy where this phenomenon was experienced
during the 15-17th centuries. It's not clear whether tarantism was the symptom
of a spider's bite or its cure, or it may have been just a pretext to dodge a
prohibition against dancing. The names of the dance tarantella and the spider
tarantula are both derived from the same place.]

Today's word in Visual Thesaurus:

Thursday, August 24, 2006

from American Life in Poetry: Column 074


Of taking long walks it has been said that a person can walk off anything. Here David Mason hikes a mountain in his home state, Colorado, and steps away from an undisclosed personal loss into another state, one of healing.

In the Mushroom Summer

Colorado turns Kyoto in a shower,
mist in the pines so thick the crows delight
(or seem to), winging in obscurity.
The ineffectual panic of a squirrel
who chattered at my passing gave me pause
to watch his Ponderosa come and go--
long needles scratching cloud. I'd summited
but knew it only by the wildflower meadow,
the muted harebells, paintbrush, gentian,
scattered among the locoweed and sage.
Today my grief abated like water soaking
underground, its scar a little path
of twigs and needles winding ahead of me
downhill to the next bend. Today I let
the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.

Reprinted by permission from "The Hudson Review," Vol. LIX, No. 2 (Summer 2006). Copyright (c) 2006 by David Mason. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Devil's in the Details


When I first started blogging, Rebecca's son Page said I had crossed over to the dark side. And now I see that he was right. As proof: observe the devils's horns cropping up in my site meter. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Dean


68 today. I can't believe it! He looks exactly the same as when we first met over 20 years ago (well, not exactly, but almost ~grin~). To celebrate, I made crepes this morning for breakfast, then we are going to the gym, then we are going out for coffee in Pioneer Square (our favorite spot at Grand Central Bakery), then we may go to Elliott Bay Books or to the Frye Art Museum to see the Darger show, then I have to go do some last-minute shopping (*wink*). Then we may work in the yard a little bit, if the weather is OK, picking pears, and eggplant, and maybe a few tomatoes. Then we are going out for dinner tonight at one of Dean's favorite restaurants, Piatti, and meeting Dean's old friends Erika and Bob. Wheeee!

Happy birthday sweetie! Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 21, 2006

¡Ayer por la noche, como dormía,
soñaba - error maravilloso!
que tenía una colmena
aquí dentro de mi corazón.
Y las abejas de oro
hacían los peines blancos
y la miel dulce
de mis viejas faltas.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

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The Vivian Girls

I must go see this exhibit at the Frye. It looks fascinating and amazing.

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"Henry Darger (1892–1973) was a self-taught reclusive artist who created and inhabited an imaginary world through extensive writings, paintings, and drawings. After Darger’s death, his Chicago neighbor and landlord discovered and made public Darger’s previously unknown volume of work.

This solitary artist left behind several diaries and manuscripts including a six-part weather journal, an autobiography in eight volumes, and his 15,000-page illustrated epic, The Story of the Vivian Girls, In what Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. Accompanied by watercolor paintings and collages, the novel focuses on a band of girls’ heroic efforts to free enslaved children held captive by an army of adults. The novel and its illustrations are whimsical and sinister in their depiction of war and peace and good versus evil."
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Man Trapped in Chocolate

My oh my:
from AOL news online:

(Aug. 19) -- It might sound like a chocoholic's dream, but stepping into a vat of viscous chocolate became a two-hour nightmare for a 21-year-old man Friday morning. Darmin Garcia, an employee of a company that supplies chocolate ingredients, said he was pushing the chocolate down into the vat at Debelis Corp. because it was stuck. But it became loose and he slid into the hopper.

"It was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere," said Garcia, who has worked at the company for two years. "I felt like I weighed 900 pounds. I couldn't move."

The chocolate was 110 degrees, hotter than a hot tub, said Capt. Greg Sinnen of the Kenosha Fire Department.

Co-workers, police and firefighters tried to free the man but couldn't get him loose until the chocolate was thinned out with cocoa butter.


We now return you to our Non-Stop Everything JonBenet/John Karr programming.
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Having a great time in Des Moines. My hosts took me out to the State Fair last night. It was about 80 degrees and sticky, and jam-packed with people. There was live country music playing on several stages across the grounds, and cicadas chirping in the trees. I saw a 1999 (correction: 1199) pound pig, who sat there with his face in his food dish. Giant ears of corn. Prize-winning peppers and tomatoes and melons. And a huge cow made entirely out of butter (I am not kidding: it's like an ice sculpture, except they carved it out of butter). We ate rib-eye steak sandwiches and cole slaw that was out of this world. More later . . .

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I leave early tomorrow morning for Iowa. Hoping for a quiet flight. My presentation is all ready, and I have emailed a copy of the slides ahead to the University. My burning question of the moment: what in the heck am I going to wear? ~grin~

Hope all goes off swimmingly. Both Dean and Lynn, my nurse at the clinic, said they liked the slides. So at least that bodes well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gay Test

Look at your fingernails.
Did you make a fist or
splay your fingers like a fan?

Hold your arms out, palms up.
Did your elbows touch
before your wrists?

Now: Skip across the room.
Stand on one foot.

Say boring.
Say fabulous.

Do you secretly believe
you are more beautiful
than most people?

When a man on the bus touches your knee,
do you want to say, “Don’t. Stop.”
Or “Don’t stop.”

Have you ever ended a sentence
with a proposition?

When someone says “boa”
do you see pink feathers,
or a big snake?

When someone yells
“Hey, faggot.”
Do you look?


Not as interesting as "Charlie," but I like the roadie part:

disciple of Jesus and leader of the apostles; regarded by Catholics as the vicar of Christ on earth and first Pope

cock: obscene terms for penis

Peter (II) Delyan of Bulgaria was the leader of the Bulgarian resistance against the Byzantine Empire around 1040. He was the son of Gavril Radomir, a former Bulgarian ruler.

Former roadie for The Rats who joined the Ziggy entourage.

till; money-box; cash register.

(1842-1921). Revolutionary of Russian origins. Exiled in Western Europe from 1874 onwards. Returned to Russia after the Bolshevik revolution. One of the foremost theoreticians of anarchism.

World class photographer and teacher noted for his "pin-up" girls and techniques of photographing women.

Patron Saint of: Fishermen, Butchers, Fever, Foot Trouble, Long Life, Masons, Ship Builders, Stationers, WatchMakers

In primitive Chaldea, not the Apostle, but the pagan Peter who had the keys to the Mysteries of Janus and Cybele.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My site meter is off the hook with people searching "Gray's Anatomy Code Black." Something I posted about last February. I guess they must be re-showing the episode? I think it's really strange, a bit bizarre, that my little post is the first result when you google. What is up with that?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Multi Function Antenna

Had a great time at the first PLU MFA graduation luncheon today. I was invited as a "friend of the program," and to say a few words. What a great group of people: Stan Rubin and Judith Kitchen are amazing, and were both just so happy to see their low-residency Rainier Writing Workshop dream come true with its first class of graduates. It was great fun to chat with the students (a few of whom are local friends), and some of the PLU faculty who were there, including old friend Sharon Bryan, and Peggy Schumacker, Steven Kuusisto, Kent Meyers (but I missed meeting Rick Barot, who does not teach in the low-res program, but whom I thought might be there). I sat with the Dean of Humanities (a really nice guy, an historical Jesus scholar, who has been very supportive of the program) and chatted a little about The Da Vinci Code and anagrams, of all things. Yummy lunch of poached salmon and green beans.

I felt a little odd speaking, as I do not have an MFA. But I think the remarks went over OK. I had researched on the web the top 42 definitions for "MFA," and had found some that were pretty funny, as well as some very prescient ones. My favorite: "Multi Function Antenna." And I used that as a jumping off point for saying a little about the writing life, and being a part of the community.


It's hot outside. The garden is loving it. We have tomatoes ripening, peppers & eggplants forming, and cantaloupes that are about 5 inches in diameter! Real cantaloupes. Oh-la-la.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Dean and I are going out to 1200 Bistro & Lounge for dinner tonight. I can hardly wait. I've been on call for 14 of the past 21 days, and I am tired. I don't want to cook, I don't want to have to wash dishes. I just want to be waited on and served. Starting with an ice cold martini, thank you.

The Family Practitioner, Jose Perez Posted by Picasa

I have been working like a dog the past week getting my presentation ready for Iowa. I am giving the opening lecture for the Behavioral Medicine course at Des Moines University Medical School. It's called:

"Practicing Empathy — Poetic Medicine: The Importance of Behavioral Health to the Practice of Medicine"

It's a longish, academic-sounding title; but a necessary one, I think, as it's a humongous topic. I have been putting the whole presentation into PowerPoint, along with some slides of patients, art works, poems, famous writers, quotes. As illustration, I'll be reading several of my own poems ("What is Lost," "Her Name is Rose," "What's Written on the Body," "What the Skin Cutter Feels," etc), as well as those of others, including Lisel Mueller's terrific "Monet Refuses the Operation," Raymond Carver's "What the Doctor Said," and Louise Gluck's "The Red Poppy." It's a lot of work, but I am having a gas putting this together. Who knows, maybe some other medical schools will invite me out to speak?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Belief's What Makes Things Feasible

Oh I like this poem (on Poetry Daily today):

Asking for More

I am not asking to suffer less.
I hope to be nearly crucified.
To live because I don't want to.

That hope, that sweet agent —
My best work is its work.
The horse I ride into Hell is my best horse
And bears its name.
So, friends, drink your cocktails and wear your hats.
Thank you for leaving me this whole world to go mad in.

I am not asking for mercy. I am asking for more.
I don't mind when no mercy comes
Or when it comes in the form of my mad self
Running at me. I am not asking for mercy.

Sarah Manguso
Siste Viator
Four Way Books

Lillian's Turn


It's our family's turn to host the family reunion for my mother's side. She had 13 siblings, and each of them had 8-10 or more kids, and most of them now have grandkids and great-grand-kids (maybe even some great-greats?). So, if you do the math, adding in the spouses, etc, it's a picnic for about 300+ people, if everybody comes. We are taking over a park and part of a lake. Dean and I are supposed to bring the ketchup, mustard and relish. I guess we'll go to Costco and get it by the barrel. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Boy Who Loved Words

I found this children's book at Bailey Coy the other day. It's a lovely story, about a boy who collects words, rather than doing the typical boy things, like baseball and fighting and etc. The story has a lot of potential, but doesn't quite end up where one would expect. Still it's worth the read. For budding word-lovers everywhere . . .

PS: Had a very lovely poetry brunch with Susan, sharing poems and eating delicious breakfast skillets at Costa Opas. Her new book Cures Include Travel is due out very soon from White Pine. See more about it here.

And Dean and I had an even lovelier dinner with Ted and Rosanne last night: they were fresh from a trip to Walla Walla, the crowds of Seafair and the noisier-than-hell Blue Angels were gone, the evening was warm and clear, and we sat out back and had cocktails and grilled things, and talked and laughed and carried on, and soon Rosanne had us all (even Dean) singing! Such a delight.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Word Cloud

From C Dale's place. Though it looks like the word cloud program only looks at the most current pages, still it is fun.

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Dean and I discovered a great cable channel last night: LOGO, which is a 24 hour GLBT station. Great music videos, and a newish show I had never seen before called "Noah's Arc," which is sort of like Queer as Folk, only a thousand times more interesting. Hot-looking men, various story lines, including love affairs and the dating world, drag and fashion, guys who are on the down low (or not), coming out at church, having children, getting married, HIV/safe sex. Garret Morris, the great Saturday Night Live comedian, plays a preacher at a traditional Baptist church, and is a hoot. We are intrigued to watch more!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Imperfect Poetry and Meaningless Poetry

Perfectly tired
of being caught perfectly
in fiction that is perfection,
I try to write imperfect poetry with perfect imperfection;
but I can only write imperfect poetry

Fed up
with meaningful poetry,
I try to write
meaningless poetry,
nothing can be more difficult
than writing meaningless poetry.
Words have meaning —
infinite meaning — and meaning multiplies, multiplies;
words counterblow,
never ceasing to insist
that they cannot help meaning by any means.

-Iijima Koichi (1930- )
translated from the Japanese by by Naoshi Koriyama & Edward Lueders

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Saw a terrific student play, "Angkor/America," at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center tonight. I went with Dean, my friend Lynn, who is a nurse at our clinic, and my friend Ly Sieng, who is the Cambodian interpreter at our clinic. The actors were students from local schools, ages 6-14. Most of them were Cambodian, or mixed heritage, and they danced and sang and acted the story of Cambodian cultural and political history. It was very simply but very well done. I loved the traditional Cambodian dancing, with gold and red and green shimmering costumes, the curving hand movements, the bamboo poles clapping together. Especially one dance where the dancers reach their fingertips into a little bowl, and flick imaginary holy water upon the audience. Just lovely.

Though it was a student production, the play was quite intense, especially the parts about Pol Pot and the killing fields. I was worried a little about Ly Sieng, who actually lived through the Pol Pot labor camps in real life, and was softly crying in her aisle seat. She said later it was hard, but it was good to watch, and she was happy to see the younger generation not forgetting. She is a strong woman, in her 60's now, and after the show she went up to the teacher who directed it and thanked him.

Work early tomorrow, and then another week of call. And then . . .

A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. ~Salman Rushdie

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ~G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

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Loss of Natural Teeth By State

#1 West Virginia 42.8%
#2 Kentucky 38.1%
#3 Tennessee 32.2%
#4 Alabama 31.9%
#5 Louisiana 31.3%
#6 Oklahoma 31.1%
#7 Mississippi 29.5%
#8 North Carolina 28.3%
#9 Georgia 28.2%
#10 Kansas 27.8%
#11 Indiana 27.3%
#12 South Dakota 26.1%
#13 Missouri 25.2%
#14 North Dakota 24.9%
#15 Arkansas 24.6%
#16 Puerto Rico 24.5%
#17 Maine 24.2%
#18 Pennsylvania 23.7%
#19 Iowa 23.2%
#20 Nebraska 23.1%
#21 Alaska 23%
#22 Idaho 22.4%
#23 New Mexico 21.8%
#24 South Carolina 21.8%
#25 Wyoming 21.8%
#26 Vermont 21.2%
#27 Delaware 21.1%
#28 New Hampshire 21%
#29 Ohio 20.4%
#30 Montana 19.6%
#31 Wisconsin 19.6%
#32 District of Columbia 19.3%
#33 Virginia 19.3%
#34 Florida 18.7%
#35 Illinois 18.7%
#36 Rhode Island 18.4%
#37 Colorado 18%
#38 Oregon 17.7%
#39 Michigan 17.1%
#40 New Jersey 16.9%
#41 Texas 16.8%
#42 New York 16.8%
#43 Maryland 16.6%
#44 Nevada 16.5%
#45 Massachusetts 16.4%
#46 Washington 16.1%
#47 Arizona 14.9%
#48 US Virgin Islands 14.6%
#49 Minnesota 14.3%
#50 California 13.7%
#51 Utah 13.5%
#52 Connecticut 12.4%

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Abbreviations Poem

ABC this gum
ATM has ADD.
AWOL on the AVE,
let’s not make a BFD.
BRB BTW next time BYOB,
CC SWC (someone who cares),
CYA before DNR becomes DOA,
eg. ESP — what’s your ETA?
Your FTE? FYI that’s an FAQ.
What does ICTYBTIHTKY mean?
(I Could Tell You But Then I'd Have To Kill You)
You all know IOU, JO, K9, LOL, LULZ,
L8RG8R, MR MRS and MS.
But what about NIMBY, NOMODO,
NINK’s & DINK’s,
Your PDA’s PDQ.
What a PITA.
Don’t forget to RSVP in R/T.
SNAFU becomes SOS and you're SOL
'cause it’s SRO for tonight’s TBA TGIF.
WCIYBP? (for Rebecca)
YOYO (you’re on your own).
Y not?

Poor Mel, Always Being Crucified

Apparently, he's not only a homophobe, but an anti-semite.


Ok now, let's do it once more. This time with feelingPosted by Picasa