Sunday, October 31, 2010

Please remember to

if you haven't already. It's your chance to restore sanity. :)

And, in case you are interested: the likely Senate Map, per Real Clear Politics (looks like we will likely be back to roughly the same distribution as 2006):

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Project Runway Finale tonight. I am so hoping Mondo wins. He is the most original and interesting. Plus he was a good non-back-stabbing contestant, with a touching life story. Andy would be my second choice. I cannot stand Gretchen, and have no idea how she got this far. She has been awfully mean-spirited, and a boring designer to boot.


Bellevue Art Museum has a great show right now. Dean and I saw it last weekend. But it is not the Ginny Ruffner exhibit, which was sort of ho-hum in my opinion. Sure, the idea of DNA from plants and animals mixing is interesting, but the pieces were kind of repetitive and amorphous blobs, and blah blah blah. They left me cold. And not in a good way. :)

Instead, go up one floor to the 2010 Biennial Clay Throwdown. Over 30 regional sculptors submitted work, and it is a diverse and energizing show. Plus, you get to vote for the winner! My favorite pieces: the amazing trabecular wall by Nathan Craven; the outrageous and witty girls' gossip circle by Patti Warashina (see how the string-can telephone turns into two sticks of dynamite); and the detailed porcelain "Dangerous Liaisons" type Renaissance tea-party orgy by Chris Antemann (all those little erections like fifth fingers pointing out).

Highly recommended. Ends January 16, 2011. Check it out!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some recent poetry

Now and then I like to mention a few of the new books of poems I have been reading. Usually from authors I don't know, or have never met.

10 Mississippi, by Steve Healy. This one was recommended to be by John Marshall at Open Books, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. The central poems series, "10 Mississippi" explores the phenomenon of river drownings, and language (poetry is a river of language, perhaps?), and of course has the lovely conceit of "1 Mississippi" "2 Mississippi" . . . and so on. Here's a taste:

5 Mississippi

Foul play was not suspected, police did not
release further details including whether there
were signs of foul play, the cause of death
will not be known until the autopsy is completed
but foul play is not suspected, it's too early to say
how she died or whether foul play was involved,
authorities do not suspect foul play in her death,
we don't have any information to indicate
that foul play was involved but we haven't
completely ruled that out until we complete
our investigation said the sheriff, foul play
was not suspected in the death, all authorities
have been able to determine is that the body
is believed to be that of an adult.

Though the poem falls a little flat at the end, I love the flow of language, how it is almost like an NPR radio story gurgling in the background, haunting and riveting, and slowly submerging us.


Selected Poems, Mary Ruefle. She has been writing for a long time, but I was not that familiar with her work. This selected is from Wave Books, and the cover is a plain white wrapper, sort of like the Beatles's White Album, I thought. She has many short lyrics, that explore ideas, experience, in a very universal way. Sort of like Kay Ryan poems, but wider, more expansive. Here's a taste:

The Last Supper

It made a dazzling display:
the table set with meat
from half a walnut, a fly
on a purple grape, the grape
lit from within and the fly
bearing small black eggs.
We gathered round the oval table
with our knives, starved
for some inner feast.
We were not allowed to eat,
as we had been hired as models
by the man at our head.
Days passed
in which we grew faint with hunger.
Later we were told
that although we did not appear
on the canvas
our eyes devouring these things
provided the infinite light.

I love how the situation in this poem, of being a human model for a still life painting, one in which you do not appear, but for which you "provided the infinite light." Wonderful!


The Lightning that Strikes the Neighbors' House, Nick Lantz. This is the second of the two books that came out together (the other was the amazing We Don't Know, We Don't Know). I don't think it is a strong as the latter, but there are a lot of good poems here. My faves so far: "The Marian Apparitions" which explores the phenomenon of people seeing the face of the Virgin Mary in everything: a grilled cheese, a peach pit, the water stains on a highway pillar. And what it all might mean -- "We are/hardwired to recognize faces--the unresponsive infant/is abandoned, or so the logic goes." The long poem "The History of Fire" is pretty wonderful, too.


Pleasure, Brian Teare. Though my friend Jeff Crandall was horrified by the bright red cover, with a photo of two men, one with his face obliterated, I thought the cover was beautiful and mysterious, and was part of why I picked up the book off the shelf. The poems explore the loss of a husband-lover (his "Adam") in modes varying from lyric meditation to prose poem to elliptical fragments to abstract word salad. My favorite part was the long sequence of "Used Books & Records" poems. Here is a taste(excerpted, with formating/spacing not exact--sorry):

XI. Used Books & Records : Elegiac Action : To Listen

"When I was your age
I thought about death

constantly New York
I had just moved I lived alone

My job was difficult

and I would sleep on the subway
to and from work Sometimes

I would miss my stop

and wake up as if in the middle
of a dream somewhere I had no

name for I thought about death
the way people do at your age

. . . .


from where my body
sat a woman slowly

flickered her handbag
her flats expressionless

when she disappeared

I knew she had died

and the same thing
would happen to each passenger

and the car would keep going

. . . .

I was not surprised
when my own body

began to flicker

I was not surprised

I was not



Happy reading!!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Political Theater at its best:

I can *totally* see a Saturday Night Live spoof on this.


Generation Homeless: the young victims of the economic crash: so sad . . .

SEATTLE (Oct. 19) -- Twenty-two-year-old Tony Torres sags, exhausted, onto the pavement just beyond a skate park where kids from this affluent Seattle suburb, Bellevue, flip tricks off ramps to the beat of a boombox. This is a safe place to hang out until he knows whether he'll get a bed on this night at the nearby YMCA, which donates its rec room as a shelter for young adults at night.

Check out the video and give what you can.

Generation Homeless: Voices from the Street from Mike Kane on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Head and the Heart

A great new local folk-rock band that is about to hit the big-time, and for good reason. Check 'em out:


PS: A gorgeous sunny fall day in Seattle today. I almost missed Kelli Agodon's reading this afternoon. But not because of the wonderful weather--I went to Elliott Bay by mistake! I walked down the stairs to the reading room at about 5 minutes to three, and thought it looked kind of dark. There was a theater group doing a rehearsal reading, and I realized, Ooops! The reading must be at Open Books!

I hustled back to my car and made good time in light traffic to Wallingford. Only missed the intros! It was a lovely reading. Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room has a lot of good poems, and I loved hearing the back story for some of them. But what is this thing with doing door prizes and giveaways and pictures and throwing balls and handing out chocolates and other gimmicks? I have seen it at several readings lately, and it is a bit gimmicky and kind of distracting. I want to hear the POEMS.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I *heart* Dan Savage!

His new YouTube site "It Gets Better" sounds like a much-welcome affirming and encouraging spot for gay youth. (PS: it's true. Being a gay teen sucks. But life does get better! Mos def.)


Dean and I went to the opening night of the Picasso Exhibit at SAM last night. It's a huge show, taking a chronological approach to his work. The early pieces are amazing: you see the genius. He seemed to have become a caricature of himself in middle to late life though (or maybe I was just saturated by the show at that time). I also like the Dora Maar group. Wow.


Great news from a dear poetry friend, that her second book was just accepted. So exciting! More on that later.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Fascinating article in the NY times today, regarding the Muslim Mosque controversy, and how this has happened all before, 200 years ago in New York . . .

Many New Yorkers were suspicious of the newcomers’ plans to build a house of worship in Manhattan. Some feared the project was being underwritten by foreigners. Others said the strangers’ beliefs were incompatible with democratic principles.

Concerned residents staged demonstrations, some of which turned bitter.

But cooler heads eventually prevailed; the project proceeded to completion. And this week, St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan — the locus of all that controversy two centuries ago and now the oldest Catholic church in New York State — is celebrating the 225th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone.


I received Kelli Agodon's new book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, a week or so ago and have been enjoying it very much. Her poems have a wonderful mix of word play, humor, pathos, and philosophical musing. Strongly recommended!

Here's a taste:


It's impossible to see a black bra
directly as no light can escape from it,
still there are supernovas, dark matter,

meteorites in its path. The black bra
understands its usefulness is overrated.
It's problematic under a white

shirt of a white woman, unprofessional
peeking out of a blazer. To see
observational evidence of black bras

you do not need to borrow
the Hubble Telescope to view the Hourglass
Nebula, their existence is well-supported,

a gravitational field so strong
nothing can escape. Black bras
can be found in the back of a Vega

between the vinyl seats. It is the star
the boy wishes on -- he is never the master
of the unhook, Orion unfastening

his constellation belt. Let it remain
a mystery, something almost seen,
almost touched in a Galaxy. I'd call it

rocketworthy, but there is cosmic
censorship, naked singularities
to consider. The black bra has electric

charge, too close to the event horizon,
a man disappears in its loophole, escape
velocity equal to the speed of light.

pg 82


I wonder if this poem started out as a word play exercise, replacing every instance of "black hole" with "black bra" in a science article, and then just took on a life of its own? It is just delightful the mix of science, sex, humor, and cosmology. I just love it. Kudos Kelli Russell Agodon!

PS: I believe Kelli has a book release reading coming up, Sunday, October 17th at Open Books. 3 PM. Be there.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Friday, October 01, 2010

This is just so sad, so sad. And interesting how they use the word "torn."

Gay Rutgers violin student torn in chat-site postings

The man writing on the gay chat site was torn: He had discovered his college roommate had spied on him from another room with a webcam as he kissed a male friend. Should he complain to the school? Would officials assign him someone worse? Or would he simply anger the roommate?

After all, the man wrote Sept. 21, aside from some occasional bad behavior, "he's a pretty decent roommate."

The next night, Tyler Clementi, 18, a Rutgers University freshman, walked onto the George Washington Bridge and jumped over the edge; authorities said his roommate had streamed a live Internet feed of Clementi's encounter with another man in their dormitory room. Clementi's body was identified Thursday.

The messages on the chat site by a man calling himself cit2mo appear to have come from Clementi, a talented violinist from Ridgewood, N.J.

The postings show a student wrestling with his rising indignation over a breach of privacy and trying to figure out how best to respond. In one of his last messages, at 4:38 a.m. the day he took his life, he wrote that the roommate had tried again to catch him on camera the previous night, and had messaged friends to watch online.

He decided to act.

"I ran to the nearest R.A. and set this thing in motion," he wrote. "We'll see what happens."

At the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, N.J., where Clementi shared a room with Dharun Ravi, students mourned their classmate Thursday, and some questioned the accusations against Ravi and another freshman, Molly Wei. The two, both 18 and from New Jersey, have each been charged with invasion of privacy for using "the camera to view and transmit a live image" of Clementi.

I hope the roomate and his girl-friend get put away for a few years. From the looks of it, they were minority students as well. You would think they would have a little more compassion for someone who was different.