Sunday, September 28, 2008

It is just gorgeous outside today. Warm and sunny and blue, but also autumnal, very fall, with a little bit of a cool breeze on the edges. I spent most of the morning in the garden, picking the last of our romas, and just finished making two huge vats of sauce (whilst listening to Morrisey, Pet Shop Boys, and Madonna on the CD player). They'll simmer for the rest of the day, and tonight I'll put up ten or twenty containers of sauce for the freezer (which we will eat all through the fall, winter and next spring). But for dinner tonight: I think maybe a seafood pasta (scallops, mussels, prawns) with spoonfuls a steaming fresh roma tomato sauce ladled over. Oh yeah.

Here is how I make tomato sauce:

-Lots of ripe tomatoes (romas are best for sauce, but really any kind of tomato will do, just make sure they are ripe). I make batches using 3-6 gallons of whole tomatoes to start.
-Wash them and let air dry
-Destem and place whole or cut-in-half in Cuisinart
-Pulse chop until tomatoes are the consistency of a chunky soup
-Transfer to a food mill and process to remove seeds and skins and set resulting tomato pulp aside

-In a large pot saute onion in olive oil
-When onion is translucent, add garlic and saute a minute
-Add some red wine and saute a few minutes more
-Add milled tomato liquid (see above) and stir
-Cook on medium to medium-high--you want a slow rolling boil
-Stir frequently
-When sauce has reduced about a third, add spices: pepper, basil, oregano, salt, chili pepper flakes, whatever you like in your sauce (but don't overdo it: this a basic sauce, and you can always add more to it later)
-If sauce is too acid or tart, add some sugar and stir
-Turn down heat a little and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce is desired consistency
-When sauce is done, remove from heat and cover
-Allow to cool before transferring to containers for the freezer (this sauce is terrific fresh, and will still be terrific even after a year in the freezer)

An interesting review/article of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics, Craig Dworkin, ed.(Roof Books, 2008)from the Brooklyn Rail here:

The problem with poetry these days isn’t the literary magazines run by pharmaceutical industry businessmen, or the grants granted by pharmaceutical industry heiresses, or even the grant-granting bodies composed of pharmo-conservo-politicos (and heiresses). And it’s not all the writing about writing, either, or even the writing about the writing about the writing (which, okay, can get annoying). It’s the poetry about the writing about the writing about the writing.
. . .
Perhaps theory should listen to poetry, give up the ideal of the subjectless text, stop denouncing the space between subject and object as simply false, and begin to see it as a devious and sophisticated and thoroughly artificial structure, where something new and alien might come to life.

I couldn't agree more. I am so sick of theory and "poetics." Let's get back to the poems. The poems you read/write because your life depends on them.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Looks like the debate opened with the customary arm-wrestle to see who would go first, and Obama won.

I watched most of it last night live on TV, and then on replays after. I think Obama did a great job on the economy questions, and totally held his own on foreign policy. He was calm and presidential (whatever that is: I think it has something to do with the cut of your suit and the color and knot of your tie?) and showed just how smart and on top of a wide range of topics he is. I like how he is emphasizing the difference between him and McCain. McCain for his part mangled the names of several foreign leaders, and generally looked like a crotchety old man, stuck in the past, with a chip on his shoulder about us losing in Vietnam, trying to make up for it with bravado in Iraq, and selling us more of the same, more of the same. Don't buy it. Don't go with John McSame.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Finalist Bridesmaid & Suicidal Genius

Had a great time at the Frye reading last night. Dean and I met up with Rebecca and Lesley and a few others at the Sorrento first, for drinks and a snack and a pretty intense discussion about the current state of politics (that idiot Palin, McCain's debate shenannigans, Obama needing to fight back more).

Lesley and I also toasted that we were both recently named finalists! for the Washington State Book Award . Me for What's Written on the Body, and her for Jezebel (alas, always a bridesmaid . . .).

I think my poems written in response to Willie Coles' artwork went over pretty well, especially "High Heeled Shoes" and the Pledge of Allegiance anagrams ("The Pile of Glad Elegance: (A)versions of the pledge"). Lesley's story about the Gabriel Von Max High Romantic painting of a woman nailed a cross was riveting. OMG -- the details about crucifixion, told in first person, especially the "balding" that was done first (the ripping of the hair from the scalp), were horrifying. A far cry from the serene scene of the idealized painting. I will not be able to look at this kind of art the same way again.


Check out this fascinating article on the Poetry Foundation website. I want to get the book (re-released after 30+ years). His poem quoted here, in the voice of the ancient Egyptian girl about to be mummified, was amazing.
"The Rebirth of a Suicidal Genius"
Thomas James, a Roethke Prizewinning devotee of Sylvia Plath, died obscure in 1974. Now Graywolf republishes his lost, legendary Letters to a Stranger, and Lucie Brock-Broido explains her 30-year search for his poetry.
by Lucie Brock-Broido


Top ten cereals:
1. Life
2. Total
3. Cheerios
4. Kashi
5. Fiber One
6. Special K
7. Lucky Charms
8. Kix
9. Smart Start
10. Wheaties

What do you eat?
For me it's Life, Special K, sometimes Cheerios, and sometimes something sweet like Honey Bunches of Oats or Sugar Smacks. (Dean just calls the last one my "Smack.")


Thursday, September 25, 2008


Salvia divinorum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Salvia divinorum, also known as Diviner’s Sage, ska María Pastora, Sage of the Seers, or simply by the genus name, Salvia, is a psychoactive herb which can induce strong dissociative effects. It is a member of the sage genus and the Lamiaceae (mint) family. The Latin name Salvia divinorum literally translates to “sage of the seers”.

Salvia divinorum has a long and continuing tradition of use as an entheogen by indigenous Mazatec shamans, who use it to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions. The plant is found in isolated, shaded, and moist plots in Oaxaca, Mexico. It grows to well over a meter in height. It has hollow square stems, large green leaves, and occasional white and purple flowers. It is thought to be a cultigen.

Its primary psychoactive constituent is a diterpenoid known as salvinorin A, which is a potent κ-opioid receptor agonist. Salvinorin A is unique in that it is the only naturally occurring substance known to induce a visionary state this way. Salvia divinorum can be chewed, smoked, or taken as a tincture to produce experiences ranging from uncontrollable laughter to much more intense and profoundly altered states. The duration of effects is much shorter than that of other, more well-known psychedelics; the effects of smoked salvia typically last for only a few minutes. The most commonly reported after-effects include an increased feeling of insight, an improved mood, a sense of calmness, and an increased sense of connection with nature—though, much less often, it may also cause dysphoria (unpleasant or uncomfortable mood).[9] Salvia divinorum is not generally understood to be toxic or addictive. As a κ-opioid agonist, it may have potential as an analgesic and as a therapeutic tool for treating drug addictions.

Salvia divinorum has become both increasingly well-known and available in modern culture. The rise of the Internet since the 1990s has allowed for the growth of many businesses selling live salvia plants, dried leaves, extracts, and other preparations. Medical experts as well as accident and emergency rooms have not been reporting cases that suggest particular salvia-related health concerns, and police have not been reporting it as a significant issue with regard to public order offences. Despite this, Salvia divinorum has attracted heightened negative attention lately from the media and some lawmakers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Well, I didn't get my call from the MacArthur's yesterday. I am so bummed (haha). Here is the list of those that did, and it includes a neato guitar-playing hippie geomorphologist from Seattle.

What would you do with an extra $100k a year, for five years, no strings? I think I would cut back or take a sabbatical from work, to write and to travel. Maybe buy a second home someplace sunny, to escape to in the winter (Arizona?, Mexico?).


In other news, I'll be reading with the fabulous Lesley Hazelton this Thursday at the Frye Art Museum, from work we were commissioned to write in response to art there. It should be a gas. Come on down. Free parking!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I liked this poem on today's Verse Daily:

Popular Science

She drops the big white bullet palm to palm
to palm like stepping down on swinging stairs
to the top of Big Rock Candy Mountain,
where the good cells sing in the cigarette
trees and there's always ice and whiskey too.
Her mouth's blistered from chemo and she's full

of holes as she goes where hydrocodone
grows in the acetaminophen shoals.
She laughs when I write our hearts make morphine.
She writes you're three hours away happy in a book,

floating in a tub.

Copyright © 2008 Steve Davenport All rights reserved
from The Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baby stilletos? Now I have seen everything. Heelarious.


This video is disturbing, to say the least.
Man has thinnest waist in the world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

I love this quote from today's Word a Day:

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." These timeless words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French author and aviator, sum up what it means to lead."

Imagine this applied to the teaching of poetry: craft vs. quest; instruction vs. inspiration.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Back from PT. I had a nice trip. The weather that day was AMAZING. I had a really easy drive up, the highlight of which was crossing the Hood Canal Bridge after about a 15 minute delay for submarine traffic (the fact/irony that it was 9/11 and there were submarines moving in and out of the the canal was not lost on this liberal left wing pinko fag).

I got to town mid-afternoon and took a walk around. Then had a wonderful meet-up with Kathryn at Siren's, out on the deck, way up over the water. Perfect weather. Scintillating conversation. The kind of day that makes me want to leave Seattle for good and retire up here.

The reading that night at Northwind Arts went over pretty well. Rebecca and I had a full house -- I think they said 55 people -- which is pretty darn good for a poetry reading in a small town (Port Townsend is a bit bigger than Wasilla, AK, but not by much). I read just a couple poems from WWotB, and the rest was all new stuff. Not from the Expedition of the Vaccine poems (which are not quite ready for prime time) but from the poems I've been writing the past year or so. I was a little freaked out that Copper Canyon had a table set up to sell my books, and here I was not really reading from them. Hopefully the new poems went over well, and word will get back that Peter needs a new book. ~grin~

Rebecca also read just a couple poems from her books, and the rest was all new stuff from her forthcoming Cadaver Dogs. I love Rebecca's poems, but they are not usually "easy listening," and these were no exception. Intense, feral, menacing, erotic, surreal. Not at all for the faint hearted. I think a lot of the people in the audience were either puzzled -- perhaps a bit disturbed -- by them, or totally won over and blown a way.

After the reading many of us went to Ellie and Carl's place. I had way too much wine, and was so happy to crash at K's. But I had to get up at 5:30 AM to make the 7 AM ferry back to Seattle, to be at work this morning. And I paid for it: Ouch -- busy day, double-booked with patients, tons of paperwork waiting in my inbox. Ah well. Who said one didn't have to suffer for art? (groan)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

As many of you know by now, Reginald Shepherd passed away last night. Here is a link to the Poetry Foundation page for him. People are also leaving messages at his blog.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I had a fun time at the Floating Bridge reading last night. Nancy Pagh read from her chapbook, After, which is a series of poems about a painful relationship that has ended badly. To write the poems, she turned to poems like Dickinson's "After great pain, a formal feeling comes," and Eliot's "Prufrock," and others, and wrote a poem "after" it. A kind of imitation, or riffing off, of the original. For the reading, Nancy had planted several people in the audience who would stand and read the original poem, and then she would read her "after" poem. It set up a really interesting call and response kind of energy, something I had never seen done before at a reading, and I liked it.


I have been on CME this week (continuing ed at UW). I usually do this conference every September, because it's convenient, and it's really very good. So far the most interesting presentations have been: Moe Haglund's talk on the management of ascites (she is such a hoot; she could be Ellen and have her own talk show!), Al Berg's latest on the USPSTF (United States Preventative Services Task Force) guidelines: he is just so matter-of-fact about it, and takes no prisoners. Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su's talk about chronic pelvic pain and the "Neuromatrix"--if I were a woman with pelvic pain, I would go see her.

It's kind of fun to be "back in school" for a few days, and to walk around the campus, and down the halls of the medical center (it's where I went to med school and did my residency, so there are a lot of memories here). But how in the hell did I (or anybody) ever sit through all those hours & hours of classes? Egad. I am bored silly and sore in the butt from sitting after 2 hrs max, and need to get up and move. And besides, it has been just GORGEOUS out the past few days. And it would be a shame to miss out on the sunlight and the Vitamin D.


I am reading in Port Townsend Thursday, for the Northwind Arts series. I have no idea what I am going to read yet. Lately, I have been starting with new stuff, and then reading from the last book. But I'm bored with that, and want to mix it up a little. Hmmmmm . . . . we'll see what I can come up with.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award
Nancy Pagh will read from her winning chapbook, After, along with finalists Lana Hechtman Ayers, Joan Fiset, Steve Quig, and Derek Sheffield.
7 PM
Richard Hugo House
1634 Eleventh Ave

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's been sunny in Seattle this weekend. Summer's last hurrah? It was such a cool and wet August. We may not even get enough ripe tomatoes for sauce for the first time in . . . er . . . well . . . ever.

Dean and I spent a couple hours cleaning out the garage yesterday. Took a load to the dump and took a load to the shredder. We're thinking of having garage sale in a couple weeks. We'll empty out stuff from the storage locker and the basement (you know you have too much "stuff" when you have to rent a storage locker to store it). Glassware and dishes we never use anymore; framed art that we are tired of; odd pieces of furniture; books; extra garden pots and tools; maybe some of the camping gear, who knows. We did this about 10-12 years ago, and it was incredibly liberating. Hmmmmm.


An interesting essay in Slate about the art of the poetic blurb:
Even if it comes from the most corrupt and sordid favor-trading, grant-grubbing, academic back-scratching sources, it's clear that those who are good at it are so very good at it that their work rises above its origins and deserves special recognition. It is not some degraded adjunct of contemporary poetry but perhaps its very apotheosis. It would be a tragedy to lose the poetry, of course, but to lose the even more brilliant blurbs!


One of my writing groups meets for the first time in a couple months (we took most of the summer off). I am so looking forward to it!, but I have no idea what to bring. I'll spend some time looking through the files today. It's odd, but needing to bring a poem to group usually gets me going to read, revise, and even sometimes to draft something totally new at the last minute. I try to resist the tempation of bringing a totally new poem draft to group, though. It usually ends badly.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

This little ditty from The Stranger is just too funny!
Enjoy (click to enlarge):

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I was going to read a couple poems from Ted Genoways' new book, Anna, washing, before my afternoon nap today. But I ended up reading the whole book from cover to cover in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down. It's a wonderful sustained historical narrative, a novel told in sonnets, a book-length poem sequence, if you will. Anna of the title is Finnish, and has immigrated with Abe Malm (a boy who was left to her care many years before, when she was 20 and a maid, and is now her husband) to Alaska in the Gold Rush days, carrying an 80lb washing machine on her back. The book tells the story of her and Abe's life together: surviving the Gold Rush by washing the clothes of miners, surviving the land's hardships and a small pox outbreak, other illnesses and more. It's a love story at heart, but a very different kind of love story. The language is beautiful, and spot on for the time, and reminds me a lot of Melinda Mueller's gorgeous book-length poem about the Shackleton expedition, What the Ice Gets. Though, at times, the strict sonnet form was a little monotonous, for my taste (some are broken up by using cascading lines, and that helps), I really really enjoyed these poems. Highly recommended.
Who says it's only poets that suffer from a typo? Looks like some cake-makers nearly bit the dust because of one:

The error was spotted after printing, letters were sent to subscribers, and inserts were added to store issues. But these warnings didn't reach everyone. One group of people still tried out this horrifically over-nutmegged recipe, and the four suffered poisoning symptoms like dizziness and headaches.

"A poet can survive anything but a misprint." -- Oscar Wilde ...


At least 1.5 million Americans fall prey to hospital error every year. The mistakes aren't exactly minor, either. Between 40,000 and 100,000 people die every year because of shoddy handiwork, including surgical mishaps and drug mix-ups. The death toll from mistakes is at least as bad as that from car accidents or breast cancer, and maybe as bad as that from strokes.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This is an interesting story about the fight over Kafka's papers. The Castle is one of my favorite novels of all time. And to think, the world never would have seen it if Max Brod had complied with Kafka's last request to have his papers burned.


Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter Bristol is pregnant. Hmmmm. The daughter of an anti-choice, right-wing, no-sex-before-marriage, Republican. As Dr. Phil would say: How is that "Abstinence-only" sex education working for you?

Perhaps Palin will do the right thing, and resign her vice presidential nomination, so she can spend more time with her *family.* It sounds like she really needs to.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Great cover, eh?
I have to admit, I am really looking forward to reading it.