Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dead Poets Society

This should be a really fun event. I am portraying Frank O'Hara, plan to read some old faves of his, as well as some lesser known pieces, and may even shave off my moustache for the occasion. If you are around, come on down!

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

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wow: talk about having an app for that.
You gotta see this!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

RIP : Ai

So sad, so sad.
Ai was one of my favorite poets when I first started out writing. She was so fierce and fearless. I feel like a part of me has died.

Here is one to remember her by.

Twenty-year Marriage

You keep me waiting in a truck
with its one good wheel stuck in the ditch,
while you piss against the south side of a tree.
Hurry. I’ve got nothing on under my skirt tonight.
That still excites you, but this pickup has no windows
and the seat, one fake leather thigh,
pressed close to mine is cold.
I’m the same size, shape, make as twenty years ago,
but get inside me, start the engine;
you’ll have the strength, the will to move.
I’ll pull, you push, we’ll tear each other in half.
Come on, baby, lay me down on my back.
Pretend you don’t owe me a thing
and maybe we’ll roll out of here,
leaving the past stacked up behind us;
old newspapers nobody’s ever got to read again.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

I've been having some fun reading a few things lately. Here's a quick roundup:

I bought Nick Lantz's new book We Don't Know We Don't Know off the shelf at Elliott Bay Books the other day. It won the recent Bread Loaf Bakeless Prize (apparently he has a second book, The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors' House, that has won the Felix Pollack Prize, and is also about to be released -- lucky guy!). In We Don't Know We Don't Know Lantz uses hilarious epigraphs from dufus Donald Rumsfield (of "known unknowns" fame) and from uber-wise Pliny the Elder as contrasting guides in his exploration of language, fate, nature, war. It's really a delightful read: intelligent, funny, provocative, accessible. One of my favorites is this short one, probably taken from a YouTube video (the title is longer than the poem):

The Collapse of a Twenty-Story Bamboo
Construction Scaffold Caught on Home Video --
Hong Kong, September 12th 2002

Until you play the tape backward,
you do not see the body: live and leaping
into the reassembling wreckage.


Also reading in Kay Ryan's new and selected The Best of It. I loved this new one, about Daylight Savings Time. She is the Dickinson of our era.


If rewards or
amends could
set the clock
back as happens
in fall when
an hour is stalled
for the sake of light,
then our golgothas
could be put right.
The kiss or reform
or return of the
family farm would
soak into the
injury, ease the
knot of memory,
unname the site
of harm. If there
could be one day
—one hour—of jubilee
how many lame
would walk their property.


Also reading Adam Kirsch's essay collection The Modern Element. I don't care for his poetry so much, but his essays are brilliant. In the final essay he is longing for a poetics and criticism that breaks free from the rock-paper-scissors "post-Romantic dialectic that obsessed American poetry in the twentieth century." He points to a "saner, more sophisticated, more humane tradition (italics mine)," in which we will not "need to look to poetry for transcendence, or to flee into aestheticism when transcendence fails, or to flee into authenticity when aestheticism fails." Some great insightful essays here, especially on Ashbery, Graham, Gluck, Roethke and Wright, Koch, Larkin.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I *heart* Nancy Pelosi:

Republicans have excoriated Pelosi for considering the use of a self-executing rule for health care reform, but senior Democratic staffers have distributed talking points reminding their members that the procedure was established by Republicans in 1933 and has been used hundreds of times since then by both parties.

For example, when Republicans held the House majority under Newt Gingrich, self-executing rules were used for about 30 percent of the time to pass bills. Under Speaker Dennis Hastert, 22 percent of the rules were self-executing.

Pelosi said Republicans are just trying to divert attention from the details of health reform.

"If you don't want to talk about substance, talk about process," she said. "And if you want to talk about process, let's talk about the process that insurance companies use when they say to you if you become sick you're policy is canceled."


I am waiting with bated breath for Health Care Reform to pass, and for our country to take a step forward.

Lambda Lit Nomminees Announced. And in poetry there are quite a few familiar names! Some of them fellow bloggers -- Congrats to Brent and Charles, both books were wonderful and deserving. I have also read Randall Mann's book and thought it was great. I'd be happy to see any of these three win.

Lesbian Poetry

Bird Eating Bird, by Kristin Naca (HarperCollins)
Gospel: Poems, by Samiya Bashir (Red Bone Press)
Names, by Marilyn Hacker (W.W. Norton)
Stars of the Night Commute, by Ana Bozicevic (Tarpaulin Sky Press)
Zero at the Bone, by Stacie Cassarino (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

Gay Poetry

Breakfast with Thom Gunn, by Randall Mann (University of Chicago Press)
The Brother Swimming Beneath Me, by Brent Goodman (Black Lawrence Press)
The First Risk, by Charles Jensen (Lethe Press)
Sweet Core Orchard, by Benjamin S. Grossberg (University of Tampa Press)
What the Right Hand Knows, by Tom Healy (Four Way Books)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring is early. There were two Steller's jays in the yard this morning, scratching around for food and squawking. After breakfast, Dean and I went to City People's Garden and shopped around for plants. We had our eye on a lovely Edgeworthia Chrysantha (see pic above). Also a Blood Twig Vine Maple ($277 -- yikes!). But we resisted. Instead, we came home with a flat of cool weather veggies for planting: broccoli, cauliflower, several varieties of lettuce (romaine, red leaf, green bib), mustard greens, baby bok choy, and spinach. Spent the early part of the afternoon planting. It was so nice to get my hands in the dirt. The soil was still pretty damp, but it was actually fairly warm, and full of worms! Not bad for this time in March.


My UW Huskies beat Cal last night to win the Pac-10 tournament and a place in the NCAA tournament. Can hardly wait to see what bracket they will be in. Let the Madness begin!


PS: I have watched Lady Gaga's new "Telephone" video on Vevo about three times now. My oh my that girl is in to the girl-on-girl prison scene stuff. It was hot, and naughty, and pretty heady (full of double and triple entendres, such "Plenty of Fish" and "making a sandwich" . . . HAHAHA). I loved the ending with her and Beyonce heading off into the sunset a la Thelma and Louise. Check it out:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Snorkeling? WTF?

When Larry King very reasonably asked Eric Massa last night if he was gay, Massa shot back, indignantly, that King should "ask my wife, ask my friends, ask the 10,000 sailors I served with in the Navy." Well, a few of those sailors have now come forward, and they're not helping Massa's case. Peter Clark, a shipmate of Massa's in the Navy, tells The Atlantic that "Massa was notorious for making unwanted advances toward subordinates." There were his patented "Massa Massages." There was the time another shipmate, Stuart Borsch, awoke to a possibly drunk Massa groping him. And there was the night that Massa's roommate, Tom Maxfield, awoke "to Massa undoing his pants trying to snorkel him."

Wait, snorkel? We're not really sure what this is supposed to mean, and the article doesn't elucidate it for us. Is it simply a PG-rated way of saying blow? Is it Navy slang? As we usually do when we encounter sexual terms that we're unfamiliar with, we turned to Urban Dictionary for answers. One entry defines snorkeling as a sexual act literally involving a snorkel mask and fins, so that's out. Another calls it a "maneuver ... performed by placing your testicles over the eyes of your partner, forming a mask. Then the breathing apparatus is formed by placing the end of your penis into the receiver's mouth." This is definitely a possibility, although, from the quote about the incident, it's unclear whether Massa was undoing his own pants or his roommate's pants, so it's difficult to say. Either way, it was not something overly heterosexual in nature.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Congratulations to Susan Rich, whose new book The Alchemist's Kitchen is hot off the press. I had the pleasure of celebrating the arrival of the first copies with Susan and KF over cocktails at the Sorrento the other night. It's a lovely book. Susan is a dear friend, and writing group member, and I know many of the poems from the past years of group. I especially love familiar (to me) poems such as "Food for Fallen Angels," "Tulip Sutra," "Tender" and "At Middle Life: A Romance." Yet there were several new poems/surprises in the book as well. Here is a sample, from a series of poems drawn from the life of photographer Myra Albert Wiggins (1869 -1956). I just love the accumulating "f" sounds in the first four stanzas, and how they return in the final lines with family, fedora and fruit:

Late Romance

She cannot save herself
from the allure of the new

the frame of formation
finding her subject

the memory made flesh in the catch of an F-stop.

She recalibrates her life --
a dress, a table, a coiled bowl;

collects Japanese paper and pools
of the pharmacist's blue

potions. Reverses
everything in the family's

dark rooms. The absent
husband to fedora --

the children to a plate of autumn fruit.


Monday, March 08, 2010

I love this, from Wikipedia:

Lady Gaga has six known tattoos, among them a peace symbol which was inspired by the late John Lennon who The Guardian stated was her "hero," and a curling German script on her left arm which quotes the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write? —Rainer Maria Rilke


And to those who have asked how Gaga could possibly have such a long quote tattooed on her arm, I agree, it is kind of hard to imagine; but here it is:

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Just finished a week of on call. And now, today, Saturday, it's as if Spring has broken out in Seattle. Me so happy!


I've been reading Tony Hoagland's new book, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. I love his sense of humor and irony, and his willingness to take on politically incorrect topics. But the book is a little hit and miss for me. Sometimes the targets he takes on are a little too easy, and the poems come off as preachy. I'm thinking of poems like "Expensive Hotel," and "The Story of White People."

My favorite so far: "Personal." Who can't love a poem with lines like this:

. . .

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts.

But I couldn't and I didn't and I don't
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret;

. . .

from "Personal" pages 48-49