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!!