Monday, March 30, 2009

Beckett's Dad

I can't resist pointing to the lovely Joseph O'Neill review of Beckett's letters int he 4/5 NYTBR. The dad in me meets the writerly son in me here: "I can't write about him, I can ony walk the fields and climb the ditches after him." It's not online yet, but watch this space.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Filed By

Just put my author page live on FiledBy. I'll be interested to see how this works--and who the real audience is for this kind of thing. With blogger et al. making it so easy to put your own page up, how is this service different from what already exists?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Disappearing Poetry

I love this wild. vanishing-poetry user-generated campaign from the Academy of American Poets. I can't wait to see what comes out of it. The multi-media revolution has smiled upon the academy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


"How easy it is to lose oneself
in a kelp forest. Between
canopy leaves, sunlight filters thru
the water surface; nutrients
bring life where there'd other-
wise be barren sea; a vast eco-
system breathes. Each
being being
being's link."

"Kelp" from Jeffrey Yang's "An Aquarium." How it tends toward my longing: a poem moving through ideas but built entirely of one word, each repetition creating a different inflection and grammatical role in the word, movement in stasis, a la "being being being's."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Irresistible argument

Can't resist the argument going on at the Poetry Foundation earlier this week. It's some of the most substantive back-and-forth about the importance and impact of -- and problems with -- negative reviewing. No age has been without its negative reviews, though ours feels more worked up about it than most that may be simply because we're so near-sighted. For famous example, the specious assertion that Keats was "killed" by lousy reviews. What's missing in the mix is the feeling that those negative reviews that do slam out the door every once in a while (from Logan or whoever) are doing so because the work means so much, has so much potentially at stake. If anyone has done that kind of review lately, it may be Michael Theune. So here's to more of that. Are you ready to take a poem to task from the long view, with an eye to building it up rather than lamenting its petty failures?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The point

"The point of a poem is not its meaning... a poem must have a peculiarity, as if it was the momentarily complete idiom of that which prompts it..." --Wallace Stevens, May 16, 1945

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beautiful Island

Fat weather tricks a man into getting out of bed when he’s thick around the middle brain, suggests a beautiful island where exists only exhaustion as streaked and wooly as his beard. Scan of the horizon suggests nothing more than rivers, mountains, clouds. Strike that: The chimney of an abandoned ice factory rises from trees in the middle distance issuing ghosts he takes for smoke. It doesn’t matter how far you go when you’re Irish there’s always another passport waiting across the sea, not to mention the ring and a lovely to wear it. Up you get then, man. Put the feed in your bag and spread light to all the chickens crowding round the slaughterhouse. “My kingdom is God’s kingdom, so why does it smell like garbage so?” Let’s be particular: Garlic and coffee grounds, cat litter, black avocado. My kingdom is a wet seed, you said. Wet seeds stink.