Friday, December 25, 2009

Big Time Christmas Scarf Awesome

Happy Christmas, all! Hope everyone has a joyous and safe holiday. Every year, at least a few times, I find myself feeling abundantly content with the world, more or less optimistic about the state of humanity. Christmas is almost always one of those instances. A fine day. Hope yours was whatever you needed it to be. Thanks to Deedie for the very cool scarf. I don't usually wear scarves. Not really a scarf guy. But of any on the calendar: Christmas is a scarf day. Also: New Year's. Holiday scarf.

Lots of poems to get to (both my own and others', the latter will receive preference for the time being); need to pack for New Year's trip to Denver; residency applications to finish; fellowship applications to continue; but for now: a tuckered-out Redbone Coonhound and some great new books. Thanks everyone, for stopping by, for having an interest, for rocking and/or rolling at more or less appropriate times.


Now Winter Nights Enlarge

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o'erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine!
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love
While youthful revels, masques and Courtly slights,
Sleep's leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense
With lovers' long discourse;
Much speech hath some defence,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.

--Thomas Campion


I thought this movie was funny. Watched with Dad the other night. I laughed louder and more often than he.

Also received a copy of The Last Waltz. Big time awesome.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sewanee Notebook

Does anyone else do this? Every Christmas I end up browsing through the Moleskine I keep in my back pocket and finding jottings of every stripe and shape: to-do lists, dates to remember, lines of poetry, quotes, restaurant names, and generally indecipherable fragments. I present a slice of the 'Sewanee' section of the notebook, with some strange and brilliant insights from some people much more talented than myself, presented in the form they were written:



when we say, what a shame, /
whose shame do we mean?

Wilbur- 'Crows Nest'
a poetry 'to make our
terrors bravely clear'

'Hamlin Brook'
-How can I drink
all this?

How should we dream
of this world w/o us
-Advice to a Prophet


Ammons--This is only
a place, the reality
we agree with
that also agrees with us

'forays into the
known to go past the

'Passion is all, even
the sleaziest.'
-Robert Penn Warren


DS [Dave Smith]
writing poetry is about
sex and death [big check mark next to this one]

-form is a window, beyond
which, half-seen, lies the poem

-past potential endings,
gaining momentum



Saw dust edging
out from the hand.

DS-every poem must
have some threat

CE [Claudia Emerson]
Risk of asking questions
in poems is that we won't get
the answer we want

"Every once and awhile, say
exactly what you mean'
-Betty Adcock


-coital inexclusivety-

'beauty is beauty
because of its flaws'

'the distance between
what the language says
and what we want it
to say'

Golden spoons [underlined twice]


That's all for now. Perhaps more if people enjoyed this one. If not, here's a picture of puppy Boone in the snow:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snowed In

There's a foot of snow on my porch. The dog's already curled himself into a wool blanket.  I think this poem is beautiful:


Snow buries cars and yews and garbage cans
Beside the dirty beige garage sits so
Delicately on the unwavering maple limbs.
A girl of ten who cannot sleep for
The excitement and enchantment of it
Watches the great specks falling through the globe
Of yellow light that is the streetlight nearest
To her house, the house in which she lies in bed
Protected from the dreamy descent of endless sky,
Protected from the wet and cold. Safe.

She feels her heart beating and it seems loud,
Louder than it should be but then she thinks how
It's something she never truly listens to, she's never
That still or the world around her isn't that still.
It's scary, this heart inside her chest that lives
Its own life, that one day will stop and she,
As they say in the tales she reads, will be no more.

Come morning, it may still be snowing.
A friendly important man on the radio
Will announce there is no school today.
She will be free to sculpt the drifts
And prairies into igloos, tunnels and walls,
To place snow on her tongue and taste
The cool airness, to feel the sting
Of wind-sifted flakes on her face.

Now, though, she goes to the window
And stares and stares. The snow feels like the heart
Of the whole world, falling, falling and perfect.

--Baron Wormser
from Scattered Chapters (Sarabande Books, 2008)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Per Traci's request, a new feature: puppy picture of the week. Boone's initial reaction to snow: not impressed.

Closer than You Think

I'm in the middle of giving my first batch of students their semester exam. We're in block scheduling until Saturday and I'm currently fretting over whether or not my exam is long enough. They're supposed to be 90 minutes long, but I wasn't sure if that was 90 minutes for the average student, or if I should make sure the slowest student could finish in 90 minutes. Anyway, not looking forward to grading these bad boys, but very much looking forward to Saturday afternoon, Christmas parties, and flurries of snow/shenanigans.


I liked this poem. But the ending made me raise my cynic eyebrow...
(see profile picture)


Received an early Christmas gift last week. Passages North accepted the title poem of my manuscript ('After the Ark') and Crab Orchard Review took three sonnets from a sequence. Jazzed on both counts. Both places I've been rejected before, for whatever that's worth...


As far as titles go--I worry about mine. Mayhaps because a certain poet-blogger whose opinion I respect denounced it before even seeing the manuscript (which makes me think, perhaps the title is just that bad). But a question for those of y'all who've had longer relationships with manuscripts: at what point do you consider changing the title? Did you actively try and think of other titles or did it just occur to you after much wrestling? I've been thinking recently that perhaps After the Ark shouldn't be After the Ark, which, to me, is a bit of an existential crisis...


Killer first line of the moment will have to be delayed this week. I'm at school and poetry-bookless. Though I have been reading Sandra Alcosser's Except by Nature, which surely has several killer first lines.


Because for us academic types, it is this serious:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Good Book

Finished Oscar Wao last night. Ran through the gamut of emotions I experience when near the end any book I really enjoy: the exhilaration of being on the precipice, of following a thread to its frayed end; the sadness of letting characters (read: people) go; the inescapable satisfaction of setting aside the book-mark, closing the book and putting it on the nightstand, turning the light and laying there in the dark with those characters still thrumming in your head.

With this book there was something else, and it may just be where I am right now (here comes the self-indulgence, the self-centeredness I'm so prone to on this space), but I desperately wanted to weep for Oscar, for Lola, for Beli. You could argue there's some light in Diaz's ending, there's certainly beauty (!), but there's also (for me) a sense of overwhelming sadness. I could feel it--I was ready to burst, to have the dog tilt his head at me for crying at the plights of fictional characters, but then I'd really be crying for myself (again: me, me, me): the rollercoaster of losing a parent young, the way a love can end without resolution, can haunt: all this baggage tattooed with self-pity.

I've heard people say that good books bring us closer to ourselves. And they may. They can also draw us back, turn us into satellites orbitting our own clusterfuck of misplaced emotion and ill-spent angst. So I was ready to sob: pillow poised in hand, incense smoking through the room, the silence on blast, running back through mom's chemo, the end of my engagement last spring. And I waited. The dog got up, circled, resettled. The incense burned out. I picked up the book, re-read the last 10 pages. Nothing.

Talk about anti-climax.

So I turned on the TV, hoping to see the score of the Texas-Nebraska game. And the Blues Brothers was on. They were singing "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." Just Dan Akroyd and John Belushi having some silly fun while John Candy nods his head. And god-dammit if I didn't cry like a baby. It took a confluence of Domincan tragedy and Chicago shenanigans, but hell if the world didn't reach out and wrench me around again. And after, the world has grown a little wider, and I'm reminded of what I already knew: everybody, you me and Oscar, needs somebody to love. (You, you, you.)

"So this is what everybody's always talking about! Diablo! If only I'd known. The beauty! The beauty!"

-from Junot Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Decemberly Morsels

Fantistic Mr. Fox may be the best movie I've seen all year. This may or may not have to do with the fact that I saw it while home on break after a solid day of wine drinking with the family, but nonetheless: I can't recommend it too highly.


Carolina survived Michigan State--but let's be honest, they're not going to shoot 65% from the field every night. I'm bracing myself for a long winter as these young guards start to grow up. Another big game on Saturday: at Kentucky...


The new issue of Blackbird is up and kicking. Some great work in there, from what I've perused thus far. Nice to see some good friends on there (Lisa Fay Coutley! Airin Miller!).


Killer opening line of the moment:

"Let no air ever come between you. No clean sheet. No lamplight"

from Catie Rosemurgy's "God, As Quoted by Two Adulterers"
(My Favorite Apocalypse, Graywolf Press, 2001)


Wow. Just, wow.