Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon to End the Year, the Decade

Wow. Last day of the year, last day of the first decade of the 21st Century (depending how you count the years). And it's a blue moon tonight. Second full moon of the month. How auspicious. I bet there will be some wild stuff happening out there at all the parties and ball-droppings and fireworks that are planned. Dean and I have dinner reservations at Le Spiga, and afterwards we'll probably be home watching Kathy Griffin make Anderson Cooper blush and turn speechless in New York.


On "Last Days" like this, I guess one can't help but reflect on the year, the decade. All the awful political stuff aside (the Bush years, the two+ wars, the roller-coaster economy, the natural and unnatural disasters) we at least got a decent president at the end, and I'm feeling optimistic that this country will get back on track. On a personal level I've had a really steady home life and work life, with a great partner and a great job (though the job has been a little out of whack the past year or so).

In terms of my poetry life the past decade was amazing: a chapbook and two books published. Great poetry friends and two writing groups and a blog. Several grant awards and conferences and teaching opportunities. I couldn't have asked for more.

But the past year has been a bit of a lull. I don't feel like I've been writing as much as usual, and that I have barely sent anything out. But when I look at my files, I see I have this HUGE 15 poem series about the Expedition of the Vaccine, that is just about finished, and several other new pieces that were drafted this year: so it really was not as slow a year as it feels like at all.

Looking forward to what the New Year and the New Decade will bring. Hopefully a new book soon. Maybe even some fiction? Who knows? Bring on that Blue Moon!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Twelve Days of Poetry

Everybody sing along! . . . . (or, for a more serious version, see Carol Ann Duffy's 12 Days of Poetry here. Or, to read about the supposed "Secret Christian Symbols" said to be embedded in the original 12 Days of Xmas: read here).

The Twelve Days of Poetry

On the first day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
A Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po

On the second day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the third day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po

On the fourth day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the fifth day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Five Sonnet Crowns,
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the sixth day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Six Bawdy Limericks,
Five Sonnet Crowns,
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the seventh day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Seven Keats Odes,
Six Bawdy Limericks,
Five Sonnet Crowns,
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the eighth day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Eight Objective Correlatives,
Seven Keats Odes,
Six Bawdy Limericks,
Five Sonnet Crowns,
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the ninth day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Nine Nuyoricans,
Eight Objective Correlatives,
Seven Keats Odes,
Six Bawdy Limericks,
Five Sonnet Crowns
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the tenth day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Ten Wompo Anthologies,
Nine Nuyoricans,
Eight Objective Correlatives,
Seven Keats Odes,
Six Bawdy Limericks,
Five Sonnet Crowns,
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the eleventh day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Eleven L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets,
Ten Wompo Anthologies,
Nine Nuyoricans,
Eight Objective Correlatives,
Seven Keats Odes,
Six Bawdy Limericks,
Five Sonnet Crowns,
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.

On the twelvth day of Poetry
My true love gave to me
Twelve Slammers Slamming,
Eleven L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets,
Ten Wompo Anthologies,
Nine Nuyoricans,
Eight Objective Correlatives,
Seven Keats Odes,
Six Bawdy Limericks,
Five Sonnet Crowns,
Four Quatrains,
Three French Forms,
Two Triolets,
And a Hand-Painted Poem by Li Po.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

I was so looking forward to reading Amy Gerstler's new book, Dearest Creature, and being able to report how wonderful it was. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment. It's not a bad book. I enjoyed the elegies for friends, the Q and A poem with her dog and the long poem "Mrs. Monster Pens Her Memoirs." But much of the book was sort of prosaic, and tame. Not the mind blowing Gerstler I admire. Ah well.


On the other had, I have been totally enjoying Paul Nelson's A Time Before Slaughter. It's a book-length opus blending the history of Auburn, Washington (which used to be called, Slaughter), with his own personal musings about politics, power, sex, love, family. I especially enjoyed "Dominism," "Nine Sonnets for Pop," and "Tuscan Sonnet Ring." Kudos on the book, Paul.


Busy weekend: Dean and I had friends E & B over for dinner Friday night (salmon bisque, salad, followed by pan-seared chicken breasts with winter veggies, wine and bread, and then a rousing game of Punto). So fun! Then Saturday night we went out for dinner at Dahlia Lounge with C. A delicious cauliflower soup with bits of apple in it, fennel salad, and pan-seared ahi done to perfection. It was Carol's yahrzeit, and we raised a glass to her. Eight years. Tonight we go to visit the home of our favorite poetry bookstore owners (looking forward to seeing what they have done with the new space).


Despite all the piles of snow out east, it was warm and sunny enough in Seattle this afternoon to actually spend a few hours working in the yard. What a delight. To pull weeds, dig up the last carrots, trim back a few dead branches from the lilac and other shrubs. This may sound odd: but it even felt a little spring-like. Tomorrow is the first day of winter, so I know that is pre-mature, but it still felt like the tide was turning, and spring was coming.


Dean and I rode light rail out to the airport today, just to see what it was like. The new station is about 400 yds from the airport, and you walk along a covered walkway to get to the terminal. There were probably 30 people on our train who were carting their rolling luggage. I think all the bad press about it being this Bataan-Death-March of a walk are way out of line. It is a pretty easy walk on a smooth level surface (that is if you are used to walking more than a few blocks without having to rest). We'll probably take light rail to the airport the next time we need to fly (which is coming soon. Ahhhh Mexico!).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This is such a heartwarming story. They sound like great kids. I'm betting the one with the afro and the perfect 800 verbal on the SAT goes into Law.

Yale admits whole set of quadruplets
For the first time in any one's memory, Yale has offered admission to quadruplets

The only fly in this ointment: how to finance four college tuitions. My suggestion: a reality TV show. Snap!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Calder & Michelangelo at SAM

Sunday Dean and I went to see the Michelangelo & Calder exhibits at SAM. I really liked the Calder pieces: huge hanging (or standing) mobiles, made from metal, wire, wood, paint (the exhibits states that he "invented" the mobile as an art form. Really?). I had seen Calder's work in art books and photos, but was always left a little cold by them. Seeing them in person was a completely different experience. They were surprisingly fluid and alive and playful. You walk by one of them and just the change in air current might make part of the mobile shift ever so slightly, or you could just blow a breath at them and these large hanging mobiles would slowly begin to turn slightly, or sway, or a distant piece would slowly get the transmitted energy, and begin to move as well, as if the entire thing were alive, or had a nervous system and an articulate skeleton. It was so beautiful.

Much better than the Michelangelo pieces, which --I'm sorry-- just seemed so overly religious, and inexorable, and dark, and depressing. The figures all looked like they were feeling the tug of sin and/or gravity so heavily, and their faces and eyes looked like they needed a big dose of Prozac.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

End of an Era

Bailey Coy Books, Seattle's last gay bookstore has closed. Their last day of business was Friday November 20th. There will be a final good bye celebration, everything must go event December 3rd. They cite decreasing sales and the notion that so much has changed in the past 30 years (for the better) that we don't really need gay bookstores anymore. Details here.

I have a lot of great memories of Bailey Coy: shopping for each new Men on Men Anthology in the 80's and early 90's; buying the James White Review and each new Adrienne Rich or Mark Doty poetry book; Dean and I picking out our yearly calendars there; buying letterpress cards and fancy notebooks. But most of all I just loved to wander the tables of paperback and hardback books and check out the new titles, make a discovery or get a recommendation from the staff about a new book. My purchases filled many a book card there over the years.

Goodbye Bailey Coy. I'll miss you.

(Now, I hope Elliot Bay and Open Books don't follow you).

Friday, November 20, 2009

National Book Award Poetry

Winner: Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy
(University of California Press)

Finalists: Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan University Press)
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again (Penguin Books)
Carl Phillips, Speak Low (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)

POETRY JUDGES: Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A. Van Jordan,
Cole Swensen, Kevin Young

I am embarrassed to say I don't know Waldrop's work at all. I will have to check it out, though it seems, from the descriptions, that the nominees this year are probably not my cup of tea?

Brown professor wins national poetry award

In a telephone interview, Waldrop, 76, said he was happy to accept the award, but said the idea that “one book is better than another” is misleading, “since books are so dissimilar.”
. . .

“It was a bit tedious,” said Waldrop, who put his award, a statue, in a bag for the trip home to Providence later this week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome Susan Rich to the blogosphere. Her new blog: The Alchemists Kitchen, with her new book's cover for the header. Nice!

Admittedly, Susan is a little late to the blogging "party." But what the heck. There's still plenty of cake to go around.
I have been reading this fascinating new book of poems, And, by Michael Blumenthal. All of the poem titles are really long, and begin with the word "and." For example: "And the Manic Energy of the Planets Shall Beckon to the Stars," and "And the World Has Its Own Conviviality, and Each is Privy to His Own Singing." Each title is italicized, making me wonder if they are quotes from some existing text (Blake?), but there is no acknowledgement if that is the case.

The poems are very discursive, long-winded (meaning sometimes they seem like all one sentence, or several long sentences, all building on the word "and"), at turns funny, at turns philosophical, at turns almost raving/manic, Blakean. As I sat with the book, and became more in tune with the voice, I really found them to be quite delightful. Here is an example:

And the Angel of Ointments is Not a Salve

The pockmarked angel who visits you regularly
but failed to come to the party you so kindly gave for him
is now in the kitchen. He is waiting for some dark

escutcheon of beauty to manifest itself, perhaps while you
are out, perhaps even before the morning paper is delivered
and the day's news leaks out over the wires, purposeful

and beleaguered. He is waiting, but he waits patiently, pours
himself a cup of coffee, examines the art in the living room
and the false Persian carpets you have laid in the hallway,

admires himself in the bathroom mirror. This angel
has a rather bad complexion, but he is hardly
beyond beauty. He knows that a scarred thing

grows lovely as it heals, that the first cardinal
who comes to your feeder will depart before sunrise.
If there are monumental things to be done to your day,

he is prepared to do them: He's brought his tools.
But nothing, he knows, that ferments a life upwards
can be yours without a bit of exuberance. He's waiting,

hat in hand, a smile on his lips, and all he has
to offer up to you is a single prayer, a mystic thing
that dazzles in the dark and knows its way home.

(pg 46)

It's a good read. Check it out!


Dean and I went with John & Lanita to see Complexions Dance Group perform at the UW World Dance Series last night. It was a good show. The first two acts were new pieces, "Mercy" and "Dirty Wire," and you could tell: they were a bit rough, up and down, and needed editing (needed to be shorter, mostly). But the third act more than made up for it: a 30 minute suite of dances done to U2 songs: "Where the Streets Have No Name," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "With or Without You," "Vertigo," and more. It was terrific!


Hoping to get some writing done today. We'll see how it goes.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Take a look at this picture.

That's right. It's apple pie, with bacon.

Recipe here.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Having a great time in Ellensburg. Sunny and clear for our drive over the pass, the aspens all golden and burnished. As you approach Ellensburg the land changes to these rolling stubble hills. Just gorgeous.

We got in early enough to wander around town for the afternoon. Got a great tip from the concierge at the hotel to go to The Starlight for an afternoon snack and libation. Great place, a definite spot to return to: excellent cocktails, and a delicious plate of tiger prawns in a Thai dipping sauce.

Met up with Katharine and Terry and the rest of the group from CWU for dinner at the Valley Cafe before the reading. Such a great group of faculty! The reading was packed. I was in awe, the whole theater filled: students, faculty, people from town.

I read a smorgasbord of stuff: some medical poems from Saying the World, some anagram and wordplay poems from What's Written on the Body, a few newer ekphrastic poems, and then 6 poems from the Expedition of the Vaccine series. I think the Expedition poems went over pretty well. At least from the feedback after the reading during the signing and the reception. It's always risky reading a long series, and one that is still in progress. But it also gave me a good feel for what is working, and what still needs a tweak.

I finished with a group of gay domestic love poems, in honor of Election night, and Ref 71 being on the ballot. Sort of charting the course of Dean's and my partnership: "Learning to Two Step," "Sweat Equity," "Perfect Pitch," and "Twenty Years After his Passing, My Father . . . ." I think they went over well.

And watching the news last night, it looked close, but it looked like Ref 71 was winning!! YAYAYAYAY!!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seattle Bookfest begins in challenging business climate

Seattle Bookfest, a new event for local authors, booksellers, publishers and readers, began Saturday and continues today in Columbia City.
By Amy Martinez, Seattle Times business reporter

In the past week, a price war has erupted on the Internet over popular new hardcover releases among, Wal-Mart and Target. Amazon declared the Kindle e-reader its best-selling item. And the owner of Elliott Bay Book Co. said the store might move from its longtime home in Pioneer Square partly because of financial difficulties.
So how are mom-and-pop booksellers holding up? It seemed an obvious question at this weekend's Seattle Bookfest, a new event in the Columbia City neighborhood.

read more here


Dean and I took Light Rail to Seattle Bookfest Saturday. The "New" bookfest has a fun funky feel to it. It was located in an old Elementary School (formerly The New School?) in Columbia City. Each little classroom held 3-4 press/bookseller tables. And then there were author readings and panel stages located in the larger gym and auditorium spaces, and in some of the portable buildings outside the school. It was a nice layout in that it divided the crowd up. It felt more intimate, less noisy and oppressive, then when the event was in more of a "big box" "convention center" type of space. But it also felt small: you never could get a sense of the whole extent of the event; and very DIY: handwritten signs taped to hallways and doors. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just different. I think for next year (and I hope there is a next year!) Bookfest needs to have a little bit better signage, perhaps get a few more "big name" out-of-town writers to come out to read, and maybe have a few more panels and/or group/theme readings, as those seemed to be the most popular (my personal favorite: Urban Nature writing, with Lyanda Lynn Haupt of "Crow City" fame, Kathryn True, Maria Dolan, and D Williams).

Some of the books I went home with:

The Circle of Fate, Tara Press (a lovely hand-made silk-screened book from India)
Upgraded to Serious, Heather McHugh
The Dance of No Hard Feelings, Mark Bibbins
Nature in the City, Maria Dolan and Kathryn True
In Love with a Hillside Garden, Ann, Daniel & Benjamin Streissguth
Greening Cities and Growing Communities: Learning from Seattle's Urban Community Gardens, Hou, Johnson and Lawson
Willy and Nilly in NUMBERS UP!, Stephen Mooser
Willy and Nilly in TONS-OF-FUN FROM A-Z, Stephen Mooser (some children's books to palce in the clinic exam rooms, only $1 at the Seattle Library book sale).


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Upcoming 10-24/25: Seattle Book Fest! Hope to see you all there!

At this weekend’s Seattle Book Fest, the focus is on locally produced lit. The festival will include more than a hundred local writers and more than fifty local businesses. Although it is possible to catch many of the writers at various venues during the year, having all of these writers, presses, magazines, and nonprofits in one place at one time makes this an event that can not be missed for anyone interested in the books being written in and around Seattle-and you will likely discover many new voices.

Jut a handful of the well known local writers include Garth Stein (The Art of Running in the Rain), Stephanie Kallos (Sing Them Home), William Dietrich (The Dakota Cipher), Randy Su Coburn (Owl Island), and Pet Dexter (Paris Trout). The list of writers who may not be well known (yet) but will be include the likes of Jonathan Evison (All About Lulu), Ryan Boudinot (The Littlest Hitler), Margot Kahn (Horses That Buck), and Midge Raymond (Forgetting English). And there are dozens of local writers who have been steadily producing great books, writers such as Jerome Gold, Ron Darkon, Sibyl James, and Peter Pereira.

There will be lot of fiction and nonfiction writers, but the poetry program also happens to be strong and includes big names in local poetry such as Sam Hammill, Judith Roche, and Paul Hunter, but also a number of experimental poets who are also great performers of their work (such as John Olson, Paul Nelson, Sarah Mangold, and Larry Laurence). If your taste is lyric poetry your bases are covered. If your taste is not lyric poetry your bases are covered.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Finalists for National Book Award in Poetry Announced:

Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan University Press)
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again (Viking Penguin)
Carl Phillips, Speak Low (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)

I'm sorry to say I've only read one of these: Armantrout's. Still, it's nice to see someone besides the usual nominees here.


Wanna see some pics from my Vacouver trip? Check 'em out here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The reading last night at UBC Robson was really fun. A great turnout. So good to meet all the other writers. And quite a diversity of voices: a new novel from a young woman, about a man who looses his job and starts to de-evolve into a pig-like creature, and his wife who at first hates it, but then starts to like it, and to de-evolve a bit herself. Poems made from wordplay, tabloid titles, serial killers' lives, and Penny Dreadfuls (yes sounds like mine, but this was from Shannon Stewart). A wonderful essay written using the form of a "Table of Figures" to tell a woman's coming of age story, and to explore her single adulthood. I read some cross-cultural poems, in honor of the "Border Crossing" theme, as well as some new stuff. A nice panel discussion and reception/chit-chat after. I think all in all it was a really good event all around! Thanks to Rachel Rose and UBC for having me.


I'm giving a workshop out by UBC tonight. On line endings, line breaks. A mention of it here on the local blog Geist.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Dean and I are having a great time in Vancouver. We took the train up Thursday morning. Just gorgeous out, the Pacific coast going by as we watched from the comfort of our coach seat. Such a genteel way to travel. I wish America had not gone so wrong with all its cars and highways, and had instead constructed more rail travel.

Our first night we had a quick bite at the hotel before taking a taxi (I wish we could have taken a sky train, our Ethiopian taxi driver nearly got us lost!) out to Jericho Arts Center to see two one act plays, titled "The Gift of Screws" -- the title taken from an Emily Dickinson poem:

Essential Oils—are wrung—
The Attar from the Rose
Be not expressed by Suns—alone—
It is the gift of Screws—

The plays were billed to be about the price we pay for truth, in art (in the hands of a tyrannical director) and in politics (the torture of political prisoners). The first play "What Then Must We Do" was incredible. A sort of Brechtian situation, with two actors, a director, and a dramaturge, playing out the conflict between their roles. Very metaphysical. Can the play exist without the vision of the director, without the embodiment of the actors, without someone watching that the script is followed? Pretty amazing stuff. And a little on stage nudity to boot.

The second play, "Muzzle of Bees" was less successful. But my oh my the eye candy. I had never seen anything quite like it -- five men, entirely nude except for black hoods over their heads (imagine Abu Grhaib) together on the floor of a prison, acting out the conflict of being made to do things, of being watched, being made to submit. It was oddly unsettling. And missed the mark, for me.


Spent part of today out at Capilano and Grouse Mountain. Vancouver has such great public transportation. We took the water ferry, then a bus, then the gondola up the mountain. Great views, a very clear day. All sorts of these athletic types having done "The Grind" (running up the mountain and taking the gondola down).


Reading tonight. Hope it goes well!


Sunday, October 04, 2009

I can hardly wait to read this. What a great cover! I can only imagine what fun is in store . . .

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Here are a few recommendations from what I've been reading lately:

First up, Unrest by poet and Master Gardener Joanna Rawson. I love the look of this book, from the wide format of the pages, to the amazing cover photograph of a swarm of bees in flight. It practically jumped off the shelf and lit into my hands. (I am reminded of something a publisher at CCP said once, "You don't judge a book by its cover, you sell a book by its cover.") Anyway, the poetry here is what I mean to recommend. The second poem, "Killbox" totally blew me away. It uses the story of 11 Mexican illegal immigrants, who get locked into a grain car by their "coyote", cross the border and end up in a rail yard in Oklahoma, in sweltering June heat . . . but miss their connection . . . and aren't discovered until October. It's riveting and tragic stuff. The story haunted me for days. And Rawson uses it as a framework to explore larger issues of fate, nature, the garden, changing of the seasons, death. Other poems use language from our current state of war and terrorist events in general, as well as images from bees and hives and natural disaster, as a trellis for her philosophical musing. It's pretty heady and intense stuff.

I picked up a copy of BAP 2009 at Bailey Coy Books a week or so ago, and have been enjoying dipping in here and there, and reading the sometimes-annoying sometimes-interesting contributor's statements. Some fave poems so far: Mark Bibbin's "Concerning the Land to the North of our Neighbors to the South" is a delightful collection of oddities (real and imagined) about the 50 states. It's very similar to the 50-state poem in Matthew Dickman's "All America Poem." And in the contributor's note, Bibbins reveals it also bears some resemblance to a 50-state poem of John Ashbery. Who new?! Other fun poems in this issue of BAP: Martha Silano's paean to Hate, titled "Love," Marianne Boruch's "The Doctor," and Barbara Hamby's wild "Ode to Airheads, Hairdos, Trains to and from Paris."

Campbell McGrath's Shannon. It's a booklength poem, all in the voice of George Shannon, the youngest member of the Lewis & Clark expedition, who becomes separated from the rest of the group, and wanders the Missouri plains for 16 days alone. These are pretty amazing and entertaining linked internal monologues (no small task), as Shannon talks to himself, perhaps writes in a diary, perhaps becomes a little disoriented and loopy (one poem just says "buffalo buffalo buffalo" cascading across the page), and nearly starves before he is reunited with the group.

Finally: the latest issue of Prairie Schooner, the Baby Boomer issue, is just a hoot, I love the groovy wavy trippy cover. Perhaps because the poets here are in my birth cohort I naturally relate, but I think it is more than that, there are a lot of good poems here. Check it out.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Amy Gerstler's message: Be not afraid

(from the LA times)


Rescued Eagle Scout Billed $25,000

A controversial New Hampshire law that charges those who get lost for the cost of their rescue is facing renewed scrutiny.

Some Eagle Scout? I'm sorry but I think ALL of these dopey people who get lost hiking in the woods or climbing mountains should be billed for their rescues. Why should we all have to foot the bill for their thrill seeking or poor planning?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Values Voters, or Dogma Voters?

I totally agree with this comment about the recent conservative "Values Summit."

“Dogma voters” is the more fitting label. “Values voters” is a label invented by people who like to think of themselves as championing good human values. What many of them are pushing actually is dogma. “Values” are “the principles that help you to decide what is right and wrong, and how to act in various situations.” Cambridge Dictionary of American English. “Dogma” is “a fixed, esp. religious, belief or set of beliefs that people are expected to accept without any doubts.” Id. The two, we can only hope, overlap to some extent, but they are hardly the same. Some of what religious fundamentalists hold up as values others find plainly wrongheaded and even immoral. Labels count. Those pushing the “values voters” label hope it will help them pass off their dogma as values. If they want to push their dogma, that’s their right. But “dogma voters” they are, and that’s what I’ll call them.

- Posted by Doug Indeap

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bookfest is Back: In Columbia City!

Columbia City is a great, old, new-again, hip neighborhood. And you can take light rail to get there!

Columbia City's
2009 Seattle Bookfest

Remember the old Northwest Bookfestival on the waterfront?
How much fun it was? Well, it's about to happen again!

Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood is bringing it back October 24-25 at the Columbia City Event Center, a former school that's one block from the new Columbia City light rail station.

The resurrected fair will feature more than 70 local authors, including poets and writers of fiction, nonfiction, mystery, romance, fantasy, and children's books. In addition, the fair will showcase over 50 area bookstores, nonprofits, and small but influential publishers as exhibitors. There is also a long list of panels, workshops and special events including a spelling bee, SCRABBLE contests, bookbinding demo, and a How-to-Write-a-Novel-in-a-Month workshop.

The event is produced by Columbia City Cinema and co-sponsored by the Columbia City Business Association and the Rainier Chamber of Commerce. Lacking corporate sponsorship, the event has become a grassroots effort, with funding and volunteer support coming from the community, the Seattle School District, the Seattle Public Library

I am definitely going to check out the readings and panels, the Scrabble tournament, and the "How to Write a Novel in a Month" workshop. What fun!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

I was invited a while back to write some poems in response to the Imogen Cunningham photography up at SAM. I'll be presenting that, and also reading from other recent work this Thursday at the Seattle Art Museum, along with poet Nicole Hardy (who sounds like she is a real hoot)-- see below for more details. And come on down if you are free.

SAM Word
September 17, 2009
7:30–8:30 pm
South Hall
Seattle Art Museum

Poets Nicole Hardy, author of "Mud Flap Girl's XX Guide to Facial Profiling," and Peter Pereira, author of "What's Written on the Body," a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, read new work in response to the SAM exhibition Everything Under the Sun: Photographs by Imogen Cunningham. Curated by Richard Hugo House.

Free with museum admission.


In other news, I was reading today in the new issue of Out Magazine, about transsexual surgeon Marci Bowers, who does some really incredible and important work in small town Trinidad, Colorado, otherwise known as the "transsexual surgery capital of the world." As I read more about her, I discovered she used to be Mark Bowers, a Seattle OBGYN. And then I realized, OMG, this was a guy I did residency at UW with 20+ years ago, who was an OBGYN Resident while I was a Family Medicine Resident. I would never have guessed he was transsexual. Maybe he was just closed in and defended? Regardless, it's amazing how people can change, isn't it?

Check out some cool you tube videos about Dr. Marci Bowers here.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

This is one of the most interesting books of poetry I have read in months. I picked it up blind off the shelf at Elliott Bay Books last week. I had never heard of it, don't know who Ted Mathys is (though the name seemed vaguely familiar), had not read a review. I just peeked at a couple poems and thought they looked interesting, so bought it. This is one of my favorite ways to "discover" a new book of poems.

According to the back matter, The Spoils is three long poem series, one about Henry Kissinger and a soccer ball, one about the environment/environmental degradation, and one about a "transformative road trip through the Deep South." I think the language is amazing: a mix of political verbiage, lyric/philosophical musing, dead-pan humor, word lists and mash-ups (sports and politics have an amazing amount in common). Perhaps the coolest part (for me) was in the first section where the shape of some of the poems is similar to a World Cup Soccer bracket (the sports geek in me really liked this): there are 4 groups, with two stanzas of four lines giving way to two stanzas of two lines, giving way to two stanzas of one line, giving way to a single line. These four single lines then would be like the four finalists.

Here is a sample from the Henry Kissinger/World Cup Soccer section. I love what is going on here with the riffing on a basic sentence structure, using word and phrase substitutions. It's very musical, very jazzy, a little flarfy. And I think it says some interesting things about politics and power and the individual-- "the poem must reclaim the nature of surveillance.":

The National Interest

We are interested in long criminal histories
because we've never bedded down in a cellblock.
With the sibilance of wind through the swaying
spires of skyscrapers as my witness. When I say
cover your grenades I mean it's going to rain I mean
there is mischief in every filibuster of sun.

We are interested in rigorously arranging
emotions by color as we've never been fully
divested of blues. With drinking till my fingernails
hurt as my witness, with hurt as my witness.
When I say be demanding I mean be fully
individual while dissolving in the crowd.

We are interested in characters who murder
because we've never committed it or to it.
With an origami frog in a vellum crown spinning
on a fishing line from the ceiling as my witness.
When I say please kneel with me I mean between
every shadow and sad lack falls a word.

We are interested in ceaselessly setting floor joists
because we've never pulled a pole barn spike
from a foot. With bowing to soap your ankles
in the shower as my witness, lather as my witness.
When I say did you see the freckle in her iris I mean
the poem must reclaim the nature of surveillance.

We are interested in possessing others who possess
that which we possess but fear losing in the future.
With a fork as my witness. A dollop of ketchup,
hash brown, motion, with teeth as my witness.
When I say you I don't mean me I don't mean
an exact you I mean a composite you I mean God.

We are interested in God because we can't
possess God, because we can't possess you.
With a scrum of meatheads in IZOD ogling iPods
as my witness, technological progress as my witness.
When I say no such thing as progress in art I mean
"These fragments I have shored against my ruins"

We are interested in ambivalence as ribcages
resist being down when down, up when up.
With the swell of the argument and the moment
before forgiveness as my witness. When I say power
is exclusion I mean a box of rocks we don't
desire to deduce I mean knowing is never enough.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Are you mad?

I enjoyed this thoughtful piece of commentary about the "angry mobs" at Health Care Reform Town Halls, that I received in an email today:

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you saw the Abu Grahib photos.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city drown.

You didn't get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they were sick.

Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all OK with you, but helping other Americans? -- well fuck that.

And have a blessed day.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Death Panels? What a joke!

I LOVE this bit of commentary from the Seattle Times the other day. Spot on!

Resist mob rule; get informed

What a joke ... a death panel! Where have people been for the past umpteen years? Are they not paying attention to what's happened around them? Do they not realize that the insurance companies have had "death panels" for a long time?
Denying people insurance due to "pre-existing conditions," refusing to pay for special procedures, driving people to court to sue in order to get lifesaving procedures for cancer and other life-threatening diseases -- Americans need to wake up.
Stop yelling irrationally and start asking the right questions in a dignified, democratic manner. It's absurd to follow these Internet rally-hounds without asking first who's behind it? Mob rule is wrong and we should be resisting it by being smart and well-informed.

-- Rosanne Cohn, Redmond


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Had a great time at Teatro Zinzanni the other night. The show has really come a long way since we first saw it about ten years ago. All new cast, a more developed show. The little gypsy tent in the parking lot has grown into a full scale theater, with a lounge and lobby area. Very nice!

The show was full of great acts: I especially liked Vita Radionova, the contortionist and hula hoop girl (though she did lose a couple hoops that went flying into the audience), the Vertical Tango couple (a tango done on a dancing pole), and the Petite Freres, three guys who did acrobatics and comedy. But the highlight, for me, was this very romantic song, sung by the madame Liliane and her former lover Caesar (taken from the movie Gigi). It's just such a wonderful evocation of memory, how unreliable it is, and how love/feeling/emotion is what lasts.

From "Gigi" (1958)
(Lyrics : Alan Jay Lerner / Frederick Loewe)

Honore (Maurice Chevalier) & Mamita (Hermione Gingold)

H: We met at nine
M: We met at eight
H: I was on time
M: No, you were late
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well
We dined with friends
M: We dined alone
H: A tenor sang
M: A baritone
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well
That dazzling April moon!
M: There was none that night
And the month was June
H: That's right. That's right.
M: It warms my heart to know that you
remember still the way you do
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well

H: How often I've thought of that Friday
M: Monday
H: night when we had our last rendezvous
And somehow I foolishly wondered if you might
By some chance be thinking of it too?
That carriage ride
M: You walked me home
H: You lost a glove
M: I lost a comb
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well
That brilliant sky
M: We had some rain
H: Those Russian songs
M: From sunny Spain
H: You wore a gown of gold
M: I was all in blue
H: Am I getting old?
M: Oh, no, not you
How strong you were
How young and gay
A prince of love
In every way
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well


I may just have to rent the movie, to see the original!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Seattle has been cooler and cloudier of late. Strange how we love the familiar.


An interesting little article about some "new" translations of Cavafy. I think I will have to check them out:

"C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems" (Translated with notes) by Daniel Mendelsohn; Knopf (524 pages, $35)
"C.P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems" (Translated with notes) by Daniel Mendelsohn; Knopf (144 pages, $30)

A Greek who did not live in Greece, he lived a quiet life with his mother, Herakleia, until her death in 1899, then with unmarried brothers, then alone in his own apartment. An agonized Christian, a voracious reader of ancient history, and a closeted homosexual, he distributed poems and pamphlets privately, but never published a book. His poetry didn't fit the verse of the time, and he gained very limited notice until the 1920s.

So he fell, and still falls, athwart categories. His muted, direct poetry tends to work not through metaphor or simile, but through characters and situations. His effects in Greek are so subtle that translations usually miss them and fall into prose.

Of his two favorite realms, one is Greek/Byzantine history - especially moments narrated by little-known greats, peripheral kings, philosophers, generals, and onlookers. As Mendelsohn so beautifully puts it, the ancient world Cavafy evokes is "rich yet exhausted, glorious yet doomed, proudly attempting to uphold great traditions even as it disintegrates."

Here you'll find a parade of lessers - Alexander Balas, Antiochus Epiphanes, John Cantacuzenus, Anna Dalassene, once-greats now buried by history. They speak of their hopes, disappointments, achievements; few realize they will be swamped in time. These poems teach us much about history, politics, and the foolishness of ever thinking you've got it made.

Cavafy's other realm is sexuality and sensuality. He may have had his first gay encounter when he was 20; for much of his adult life, he'd have a long dinner with Mom at home and then leave her, to visit the tough side of town shopping for tenderness. Although he was extremely discreet about his own life, his poetry becomes more open, especially after her death. After 1911, his attitude and poetry seem to embrace the life he struggled with for so long.

Cavafy's triumph is that his love poems can evoke the same enduring, compelling themes as his history poems: loneliness and loss, the nature of nobility, the ravages of time, the power of pleasure, and the fleeting nature of happiness. The unfinished, exquisite poem "The Photograph" begins with a speaker looking at a former lover's "beautiful youthful face":

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whoa! Hottest day ever in Seattle:

Hour-by-hour temperatures
Temperatures soared around the Puget Sound area:
Sea-Tac Everett Olympia Bremerton
7 a.m. 75 79 68 79
8 a.m. 82 83 75 81
9 a.m. 88 86 81 84
10 a.m. 93 89 83 90
11 a.m. 90 93 86 91
noon 93 95 90 93
1 p.m. 96 96 95 97
2 p.m. 99 98 98 99
3 p.m. 101 98 101 100
4 p.m. 102 98 104 100
5 p.m. 103 98 104 95
6 p.m. 102 96 104 102
7 p.m. 101 93 99 100
8 p.m. 98 88 96 91

I was at work through most of it, seeing patients in relative air conditioned comfort. But driving home it hit me like a freight train. Dean and I decided to go out for dinner, rather than cook, and make the house any hotter. A nice meal at La Cocina, including ice cold margaritas. Ahhhh . . . .

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

High Summer

Oh my it is HOT HOT HOT in Seattle this week. The garden is just roaring. We have HUGE tomatoes! A couple of the Early Girls (or are they Better Boys?) are ripe already, and it is still only the end of July. Unheard of. And the corn! Easily as high as an elephant's eye. It's really been an amazing summer.

D and I are hunkered down in the basement trying to keep cool. Or, as you can see, enjoying our little "Zero-Gravity" chairs, with a slight modification: attachable beach umbrellas from Rite-Aid (only $6), to keep the sun off our faces.

Friday, July 24, 2009

From Lambda Literary news: this is just so sad:

E. Lynn Harris (1955 - 2009)

With great sadness, I report that New York Times bestselling author E. Lynn Harris passed away on Thursday, July 23, while on tour for his eleventh novel.

I don't know many details yet, but it's believed it was a heart attack. I've spoken with Lisa Moore of Redbone Press and Don Weise of Alyson, both of whom knew him well, and we're all just stunned.

I worked with Lynn for over ten years as his editor and came to be his personal friend as well, so this loss strikes very close for me. Lynn had a very big heart, which he revealed in his storytelling and in his interaction with his audience. Attending a Lynn Harris reading was a family affair, and there were always flowers, tears, and loads of laughter. His novels often changed his reader's lives, and he truly was grateful for his ability to help people. I will miss him, his laughter and his big heart.


Charles Flowers
Lambda Literary Foundation

From Black Voices Newswire, by Karu F. Daniels:

A Random House executive has confirmed to The BV Newswire that best-selling author E. Lynn Harris has died.

Harris was 54. He was currently on a book tour of the West Coast promoting his 11th novel Basketball Jones, which involved an NBA player and his gay lover.

According to, the celebrated author's personal assistant confirmed that his health had declined but would not provide any details as to what caused his death.

A cheerleading sponsor/coach for Arkansas and a passionate Razorbacks fan, Harris' books dealt with black, gay culture.

Most recently, the Detroit native served as a visiting professor for the English department at the University of Arkansas.

The former IBM executive just celebrated his 54th birthday on June 20.

Since bursting on the scene in the early 1990s with his seminal tome Invisible Life, Harris steadily wrote page-turner after page-turner. And his biggest fan base were women. With more than four million books in print, he originated as a self-published author -- setting the blueprint for independent authors getting picked up by major book publishers.

"I think I've been a success because I write about things I'm passionate about and have something to say," he told last year. "I think people relate to me because they know I relate to them."

A longtime author for Random House, his titles include Just As I Am, And This Too Shall Pass, Abide With Me, and his 2004 memoir 'What Becomes of The Brokenhearted.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Permanent Bedtime: poetry, sedative, or just a weather report?

I could listen to this woman's voice all day. Or at least until I fell asleep. Take a listen. I have no idea what she is talking about (it has something to do with the weather in shipping lanes in the British Isles, I think), but it is just so pleasantly hypnotic and mesmerizing, and for some reason calming and reassuring. I wonder if all the lonely seamen out there fall in love listening to her?


The new Light Rail system opens in Seattle today. They are expecting 50,000 riders to take a trip for free today for the grand opening.

Dean and I went down to Pike Market earlier to pick up some fish, and some extra salad makings. It was just packed! All sorts of people dressed in the same teal green shirt (for the Seattle FC soccer match against Chelsea, I suspect). Gorgeous weather, flying fish, coffee, tourists, cameras, sailboats, ferries. What a day!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

I have really enjoyed hearing bits of Sotomayor's confirmation hearings. It is such a pleasure to hear her calm, reasoned, intelligent voice. She actually knows the constitution! My favorite part was Al Franken's questions, and when he asked if the word "abortion," the word "birth control," the word "privacy" were in the constitution. The first two were easy, of course, but the third one, "privacy" she answered without a moment's hesitation (no, it does not), and then went off on a reasoned explanation about the thread of court decisions over the years that have addressed privacy. Just excellent.

From today's Word a Day:
Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right. -Martin Luther King, Jr.


Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe is also a published poet?! (I love that the name of the magazine is Rubbish.)

The collection was published in November 2007 in Rubbish magazine, an annual publication with a circulation of 3,000 which describes itself as "a playful platform for fashionable people".

Introducing Radcliffe's verses, it says it is "proudly debuting the work of Jacob Gershon, 17, a very exciting and dynamic young poet".

A spokesman for the magazine said: "Poetry is a key aspect to Rubbish, so it was fantastic to be able to provide the platform for 'Jacob' and his debut work."


Saturday, July 11, 2009

This was such a sweet story: Iconic Woodstock couple keeps spirit of the festival alive. They had known each other for only about 3 months at the time the original photo was taken. Now they have been together over 40 years.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I love this poem by Sara Wainscott in the latest issue of Poetry Northwest. For some reason it just speaks to me. I have scanned it in to preserve the formatting, just click on it to view.


Saw this over at Emily's blog. I love the idea of a Flag for Equal Marriage. One star for each state that has joined the movement. It feels very revolutionary, very early American, very DAR. And it projects "real" American values into the faces of all the homophobes.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday just about noon. Sitting in the cool basement. It has just been the hottest sunniest June-July that I can remember. I feel like we have already had a month of summer, and summer has really only just started. It’s really been amazing. But Dean and I have had to be particularly mindful about the garden, and keeping up on the watering. Hopefully it means we will have a bumper crop of hot weather veggies: tomatoes, peppers, cukes etc.

Speaking of which, we had such an abundance of fresh broccoli and zucchini the other day, that I tried blanching and freezing them. I found the instructions on line here: How to Freeze Summer Squash. It’s pretty easy to do: wash, cut, toss in a boiling water bath for three minutes, then an ice bath for 5 minutes (to stop the cooking process). Then let drip dry, then place on a tray to freeze before bagging in food sealer (or just put directly into food sealer). We’ll see how they are to eat later this winter, over pasta or in soup. Hopefully they will be full of summer flavor and still crisp, not mushy.


Watched poor Andy Roddick loose 16-14 in an epic 5th set to Roger Federer at Wimbledon. I am so bummed. I wanted Andy to win so bad. He only lost his serve once in the entire match, and it was in the final game. Arrrggghhh.


Friday, July 03, 2009

PALIN RESIGNS!! (ding dong the witch is dead?)

Watch the entire kooky rambling video here. Is she setting herself up for a 2012 presidential run, or for more Britney-esque tabloid fodder for years to come?

Remember this when the primaries begin: Palin is a QUITTER. She abandoned her post when the going got tough.
This cover image from the latest issue of Seattle's The Stranger is in such bad taste, I just love it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What is going on? First Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays are dead at 50!? Looks like the big 5-0 is a dangerous crossing. Thank God mine has been safe thus far.

Dean and I had a great time hosting a little garden party-pot luck fete at our home yesterday. Thank you to everybody who came or sent wishes (and sorry to miss those who could not make it). It was so good to see people from all the different parts of my life -- family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, poetry people, gay buddies, etc -- all together in one place. The youngest person there was 19 mos old, and the oldest was 91. It was HOT and SUNNY and I hope everybody had a great time. I know I had a blast! Some pics below (unfortunately the camera was misplaced about half way through, so we missed a lot of folks),

But first up, the prize for the funniest birthday card goes to Steve I., who could not make it to the party, but sent this via his partner Ralph. The inside says, "See, there are things more frightening than having another birthday." HAHAHAHA!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

All Together Now
Got this from Jared Leising a couple weeks ago. It's pretty cool. A collage of You Tube musical instruments. "Play these together, some or all, start them at any time, in any order."

"In Bb 2.0 is a collaborative music and spoken word project conceived by Darren Solomon from Science for Girls, and developed with contributions from users.

The videos can be played simultaneously -- the soundtracks will work together, and the mix can be adjusted with the individual volume sliders."

Check it out.


The Most Misspelled Word? Definitely

According to a new study, "definitely" is the most misspelled word in English. (This might be the Queen's English, and not American English though, since "manoeuvre" also made the list.)

Also on the list were broccoli, phlegm, bureaucracy, indict, consensus, unnecessary, sacrilegious and prejudice.

General opinion surrounding the poll seems to blame text messaging for our inability to spell. You know, because people are always texting the words "bureaucracy" and "sacrilegious." Spell check perhaps could shoulder a little blame, but typing OMG into your phone is not automatically the same thing as not being able to spell words correctly.