Thursday, April 29, 2010

Paul Nelson over at SPLAB noticed this recent review of my last book What's Written on the Body. I did not know about it, so thank you to Paul for pointing it out. It's nice to know someone has spent some time with the book, and thought enough of it to write a review.

I think Joel Weishaus (the writer) takes an interesting Zen Buddhism approach to the book. And I like what he mentions about the Middle Ages, and how physicians "read" the body for signs. Though I did not know of the Rafael Campo quote he mentions.

Check out SPLAB here.

Check out the review at the Poetica blog here.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The Scorpio/Taurus Full Moon, of which we will start to feel the effects on the evening of April 27, is a powder keg, triggering strong emotions. Tempers could flare as the Sun and Moon trigger stubborn Mercury in Taurus and feisty Mars in Leo. Words carry tremendous power now to heal or hurt, unite or divide. Impatience is likely, and impulsive purchases, flirtations or jealousy can get you in hot water. Keep a cool head at this Full Moon, and find a healthy outlet for your passions. What might that look like for you?
This should be a fun night. Voice is so important in poetry, and I truly believe that poetry is meant to be read aloud, and not just exist on the page. Read all about it at the Poetry Out Loud website.

Nine Student Finalists to Compete for $50,000 in 2010 Poetry Out Loud National Finals
Award-winning actor John Leguizamo to host tonight’s competition

WASHINGTON, DC—Nine high school students will vie for the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 award, tonight at the Lisner Auditorium on the George Washington University campus in Washington, DC. The nine students advance from yesterday’s semifinal round of 53 students from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and from a field of nearly 325,000 high school students who have competed in Poetry Out Loud contests in classrooms nationwide. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books will be given out on Tuesday night.

The nine finalists are:

Alabama State Champion Youssef Biaz (Auburn, AL)
Illinois State Champion Annette Putnam (Andover, IL)
Maryland State Champion Nora Sandler (Bethesda, MD)
Montana State Champion Diego Javier Steele (Lolo, MT)
Nevada State Champion Emily Orellana (Reno, NV)
Rhode Island State Champion Amber Rose Johnson (Providence, RI)
South Dakota State Champion Ruth Haile (Sioux Falls, SD)
Virginia State Champion Tia Robinson (Warsaw, VA)
Wisconsin State Champion Madeline Bunke (Brookfield, WI)


Good luck everybody!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dean and I went out Friday to Columbia City Cinema to see "Date Night" for our own little date night. I love that theater: very laid back, popcorn served in plain brown paper bag, tickets that just say "admit one" and are torn from a roll at the little lectern that is the box office. The theater has had a bit of financial difficulty of late, and the owner has been asking for donations. I hope they don't go under, as it is great to have a little neighborhood theater. So donate! Or at least go to a movie there.

And what a silly sweet movie "Date Night" is: a "married-with-kids" love story and a screw-ball comedy crime-thriller all in one. Steve Carell and Tina Fey have great on screen chemistry. I think the car chase is one of the best I've ever seen: the conjoined cars, the taxi driver with the kindle in his glove box, it was just a hoot! And Mark "nice pecs" Whalberg is wonderfully subdued in his bit part. Go see it! You'll laugh your ass off. I promise.


Yesterday Dean and I did major yard work: we took the reciprocating saw to the two dwarf black pines that we planted about 5 years ago, that were not dwarf at all, and were growing exponentially out of control, and needed to be removed. And while we were at it, we cut down another small evergreen shrub we no longer cared for, that had grown misshapen. We are replacing the black pines with some dwarf Italian Cypresses. They are supposed to get no larger than 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide. They are supposed to have "Aromatic, lemon scented needles" and "Bright chartreuse foliage." We'll see . . .


We went with E and B last night to see Compania Nacional de Danza at UW Meany World series. It was a fun show, but not as good as last time they were in Seattle. Though the last act, with the dangling chain curtain in the background, and the 4-legged table used as a prop for the very slow, acrobatic/gymnastic pas de deux, was pretty amazing.


Today, Susan Rich reading at Open Books at 3 pm.

And in May, the Jack Straw Reading Series, curated by Jared Leising, has a great lineup.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Not Gay Enough to Play Softball?

This is just too funny and ironic for words. Much ado, a tempest in teapot (or batting box, for that matter), in my opinion. But seriously, if these guys were straight, what were they doing trying to join "our" team? Don't straight guys have enough options in the uber-hetero, uber-homophobic no-fags-allowed existing sports leagues (that often discriminate against gay players?).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I went shopping at the new Elliott Bay Books on Capitol Hill yesterday. It's a nice open space, with high ceilings, exposed wood, plenty of natural light. It has the same kind of feel as the old store: a hallowed place for books, with wood shelves along the walls and aisles, as well as tables of books everywhere. The main difference is the store is mostly in one main room now, and not the rabbit warren of multiple rooms and levels that the old store had. There is one small separate area upstairs, and a separate area for the cafe (under construction). And the reading area is down a set of stairs, in a basement room in the back. The store was packed with customers yesterday, so hopefully all bodes well! Congratulations to Peter A and crew!


I bought two books of poems there: Allen Braden's A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood, new from The VQR Poetry series, and Phantom Noise, new from Brian Turner and Alice James Books.

I have known Allen's work for years, and published some of his poems back when I was at Floating Bridge Press, and it is so good to see this full collection. He weaves together themes of contemporary love with family memory and farm work and hunting images. One of the frameworks for the poems is a series of sonnets titled "Taboo Against the Word Beauty . . ." One is "Invocation", another is "Epistolary Version" and others are "Elegiac Version" and "Troubadourian Version." They are each pretty amazing. Here's one:

Taboo Against the Word Beauty: Troubadourian Version

My life without your love: everywhere
the chalk goes, something's left behind.
On the other hand, antlers dropped by deer
are loved to nothing by porcupine.
In spring, they say, a young man's fancy turns
to this. Meanwhile the swollen Green River
uncovers record snowpack in the mountains,
plus the latest fancy of a serial killer.
Why test your notion of romance by limitations
to skin and bone? A lace of fascia warm
as gentle love when flesh is splayed open.
Disrobe and clothes forget their human form.
I'd cinch a cord around your throat and take
you from behind. I'd do it for beauty's sake.


Brian Turner's new book covers a lot of the same ground as Here, Bullet. Though the narrator seems to be home from war now, and having bad memories, PTSD problems, relationship problems, and the like.

This one poem blew me totally away (no pun intended):

In the Tannour Oven

Stitched into the gutted belly of the calf:
a fat young lamb, dressed and cleaned,
its organs removed from the cave of bone.
And within the lamb: a stuffed goose.
And in the goose's belly: a mortar round.
And within the mortar round: a stuffed hen.
And in the hen's belly: a grenade.
And within the grenade: a stuffed thrush.
In the thrush: a .50 caliber bullet.
In the .50 caliber bullet: seasoned
with murri, oil and thyme -- a wedding ring.

Ah, love -- when you undo the stitches,
take your time. I have love letters
stuffed inside me, these tiny bodies
made heavy by their own labored breathing.


I love how this poem captures the insane Trojan Horse/nested dolls quality of war, violence, trauma. How we get all wound up in entangling binds of country, history, religion, fate -- both on a national level (the silly wars we are stuck in) and on a personal level (the soldiers who come home scarred, and unable to let it go).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Glee Flash Mob in Seattle

This is the kind of thing that gives me faith in the human race. Such unbridled joy !

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elliott Bay Books Grand Opening! Plus Dead Poets Society

Elliott Bay Books is having their Grand Opening Celebration at the new location this Thursday April 15th from 4-7pm. Be there.

New Location:
The Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 Tenth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98122

And after you celebrate at Elliott Bay, make sure to walk on over to Hugo House, just a couple blocks away, for the Dead Poets Society reading. It should be a lot of fun.

When: Thursday, April 15, 7:30 p.m. at Richard Hugo House

Celebrate National Poetry Month at Hugo House with readings of famous dead poets Richard Brautigan, Audre Lorde, Frank O’Hara and Anne Sexton by local living poets Peter Pereira, Nicole Hardy, Matt Gano and Jourdan Keith. Hosted by poet Kate Lebo.

For Dead Poets Society, each living poet will portray a dead poet from the canon and read his or her work; it will be part costume party, part poetry reading. As an extra wrinkle—since Hugo House’s mission is to support new work, all of the poets will write one original poem in the vein of, inspired by or in response to a work or the life of their selected writer.

Tickets for Dead Poets Society are $10 ($6 for Hugo House members, seniors and students) and are on sale now through

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nox: Anne Carson

I've been reading Anne Carson's new book Nox. It's a very unusual book: a photo-facsimile of a book she made by hand for her brother after he died in 2000. It comes in its own box, and is an accordion style book: you can flip through the pages, and unfold it and lay it all out. Apparently, she was working on a translation of a poem by Catullus when he died -- a poem which is, ironically, for Catullus' own dead brother -- and Carson uses this as the framework for the book. Each word of the Catullus poem has a page long exploration of the definition/etymology of the word, with all of its nuances and alternate readings, cut out and pasted on as if in a scrapbook, along with family photos, fragments from old letters, and other ephemera. And she weaves in the family history, the story of her brother's life & death, and other vignettes, within this framework of the translation project.
It's a very moving read. Translation, history, remembering, creating: they are how we deal with love and loss, to come to terms with it, to understand it, or at least accept it, in a sense. And the book itself is quite an interesting objet d'art in its own right. I can only guess how amazing the original is. And in this day of "Kindle" books, and "iPad Winnie the Pooh" books, it is so refreshing to see this kind of "book-art" being published.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wow. Go to the 1:10 mark and listen. This Chinese kid does an *amazing* pitch-perfect cover of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." It gave me chills.