Sunday, May 31, 2009

poetry is not . . .

Whenever someone declares unequivocally that poetry is not something, I try to figure out the root of this emotional response. Not that an emotional response is inappropriate or that the emotion is wrong. But I'm curious to figure out what exactly is the threat to the declarer if people believe poetry is something. I find it hard to believe that exclusion is a "universal truth" -- if something is universal, shouldn't it be more all encompassing? For me, the question always becomes: What's at stake for this person making this declaration?

In the spirit of self-reflection, I decided to go through the archives of my dead blog to see where I declared such to be so. I only found one direct "poetry is not" direct statement, much to my relief:

October 26 2006: "Our ability to make, promote and support poetry is not reliant on how much others are getting."

Well, I don't get off that easily, my writing style and approach is different. I'm less of an all encompassing declarer and more of "let me give you some advice" type. I find the latter considerably less obnoxious, but still, I am trying to influence the way others think of poetry. As a Capricorn, I'm self-conscious as coming off as a dictator. Turns out people resent that shit.

I searched on "If you want" and found these highlights:

January 21, 2009: "If you want to reach more people, study filmmaking or write TV sitcom scripts."

September 17, 2008: "Then I remember that I don't want to become the bitter 50 year old woman in the back row listening to my male peer talk about how you "just have to work" if you want to accomplish something, him seemingly forgetting how someone else took care of his children and home and basically his entire fucking life so he could "just work.""

January 9, 2007: "Working with poets for No Tell Motel is kind of like dating -- you get to know a little about somebody, gives you an idea if you want to work with them again."

September 17 2006: "I could list those magic combination of words on my resume and yeah, that's part of life and if you want to participate and be successful, that's what you're going to have to do, but I don't want that to be part of my poetry."

April 17, 2006: "I'm talking to you, Jordan, I read your blog post about today's NTM poem and all I have to say is if you want those handcuffs removed -- get off your fat duff and do it yourself!"

April 12, 2006: "If you want to say it's no big deal that article shut out the female peers of the men mentioned or bring up the numerous other good deeds of the author and how that evens things out -- fine, that's your right, but don't presume you know a thing about me and for God's sake -- don't lecture me about feminism."

Looking over these comments and posts, it becomes clear to me that I try to influence others by figuring out what it is someone wants, and either put myself in his/her shoes or demonstrate a connection between that person and myself. Then I suggest my "optimal" way of doing it. I make the case, casually and personally. It's the let-me-be-helpful approach. When that approach fails, I seem to switch to the "If you want to be an asshole, be my guest!" approach.

I'm not sure if that's the approach I want continue.

I'm dreaming of back doors with shorter lines, new clothing, waking from sleep and comas.

Friday, May 29, 2009

on poets, gods and monsters

When a poet (or any artist, really) creates something that connects, inspires, touches, changes the way another thinks or sees, that's something I refer to as divine energy. The poem, art or the performance evokes a powerful response. This might be someone's requirement for "greatness." Whatever. There's something undeniably strong and moving that is conjured.

What happens sometimes, is that the poet confuses himself to be this divine energy when instead he is the conduit of the divine energy. He is not the source, it does not reside in him, he is not it. He is the thing that connects with and channels this energy into something recognized as divine by others. That is not to say that a poet is just some lucky slob who merely vomits up divine poems. Clearly it involves talent, skill, hardwork, etc. It's not a common ability. The ability is indeed valuable and special. Those who possess and utilize this ability are certainly worthy of acknowledgment, whether it's an award, a job, royalties. They deserve admiration and respect -- like any other human being who does something notable and important. These poets deserve all the human perks and benefits.

But gods are not poets. People are poets and poets are people who are no better and no worse than any other type of people. Poets are not higher beings. Poets are flawed, just as likely to cheat, steal, lie, etc. as the next slob. Poets, as a group, do not possess a higher level of self reflection or even compassion. These are qualities that vary among individuals. So in this respect as they are human beings, people, we should not expect any more or less of poets. Lest we'll be disappointed.

We hear terrible stories about poets, who they are and what they've done. It can be pretty awful stuff. It can ruin our enjoyment of their work. We should be no more shocked that the poet did this as opposed to the truck driver doing it, and we should never give any poet a pass for abuse because he's a poet with the ability to channel divine energy into amazing poems. Just as we do not give a pass for abuse to the HERO who committed an exceptional act of bravery. Yes, its wonderful, laudable that he saved 100 lives, but that does not give him the right to then go home and abuse his wife or his child, or even his dog. There's no free pass for one person abusing another person. No matter one's talent, accomplishments or station in life. The pass to commit human sacrifice (in any sense) is not a perk that should be given to any human being.

How do we even get to a place where a poet is given a pass to abuse another? Because we too confuse the divine energy in the poem for the poet. People project this divine energy onto artists all the time. I don't say I'm a fan of Jeff Goldblum's work, I say I'm a fan of Jeff Goldblum. I loooooove Jeff Goldblum. I have the steaming undies for Jeff Goldbum. I want to have 20 of Jeff Goldblum's babies and name them all Goldbloom.

See, I'm projecting the divine energy from his performances onto him. If I'm a disturbed person, I confuse my real connection to his work as an actual connection to him. While it's quite possible that his work speaks to me, Jeff Goldblum, the human being, has never spoken a word to me. I have no connection to Jeff Goldblum the man. I might not even like Jeff Goldbum the man. In fact, I hope I never meet him. One stray nose hair could totally destroy all it all for me.

Sometimes artists, poets, buy into the projections put onto them. It's easy to do. If enough people tell you how amazing and special you are, you are liable to buy into. Then you're the asshole diving into the swimming pool screaming "I'm a golden god!" Then you destroy a hotel room and you somehow get away with not being labeled a criminal. You screw 300 people and nobody suggests you're a sex addict, or even a total skeezer. They gave you a pass and you're taking advantage of it!

Of course, these passes often expire, sometimes without warning.

Here's the deal. I have no problem with Gideon dancing to a Michael Jackson song. The song is the song. But I'll be damned if I'm gonna hire MJ to be his dance coach and I'd be mighty chagrinned if he was honored at the Nickolodean Awards. I don't care if they assure me he won't be within 50 feet of a child. Not even 30 years from now. It sends a really fucked up message to children. Do I really have to explain how fucked up that message is? Do I have to remind you that children are human beings? I would hope not.

I would never knowingly send Gideon to a school where there was someone known to harass and extort students. I would never tell Gideon to get used to the idea that some people, based on their position and accomplishments, get a pass to abuse him. I would not tell him that is his lot as a child. Also I would never tell myself those things. I do not have a middle finger big enough to flash to those who say I need to get used to such things or that sometimes a blind eye is needed. I don't think it's any less terrible because it's common and frequent. I think that makes it worse. Drunk driving is common and frequent. So are its victims. How does that make it more tolerable? Being more common and frequent just means there's a higher chance it will happen to you or someone you care about. When that happens, will you feel the same?

There's a high profile poet (no need to name) who has long asserted that to be a poet one must live a very specific, rigid type of life. A true poet gives his devotion to only one thing, poetry, absolutely nothing else. This includes not devoting oneself to a secondary vocation or art, a cause or even one's own child. In this scenario Poetry is a jealous demon bitch who will not tolerate, under any circumstance, being shuffled into second place, not for one second. She comes before children, family, any responsibility to others or community. Always. If you wrong her, she takes away your identity as a poet. You can write poems until you're blue in the thumb, channel crazy levels of divine energy into poems, it won't make a bit of difference. You broke the poet covenant. You are not for real.

To follow this reasoning, to be a true poet one must become a MONSTER. It's such a ridiculous line of reasoning it's amazing anyone could take any part of it seriously.

Fuck you starving child. Fuck you man on fire. I can't put my pen down to help. I'm a poet!

Is being a MONSTER divine? Is being a MONSTER a higher calling?

I'm a fake poet. My Poetry is not a jealous demon bitch. My Poetry rides on the same bus with my other pursuits and loved ones. Sometimes I let her sit up front, sometimes I even let her drive, and sometimes I send her to the back because someone else needs my direct focus. I believe my Poetry is more informed, encompassing and rich because of this. I believe everything and everyone on this bus benefits from one another. My poems are better because of this. I am better because of it. Because it's all the same thing. My life can't have Poetry with only poetry.

Or at least that's my experience, which apparently does not count for anything, because it is not the universal human experience . . . dictated by Poetry, the jealous demon bitch.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

where poems are born

A little surprised, although not much, by some of the comments here by poets discounting the value or relevance of dreams. People dream differently, but the psyche is communicating to your conscious part, using symbols, signs, images, metaphors, language, triggers, cues, etc. intended for YOU to hear/see/feel and understand. Your dreams aren't failing you, you're not paying close enough attention. Pay better attention, you'll get more useful dreams. Or at least they'll seem more useful because you're paying attention.

There's a number of theories and techniques of how to interpret dreams. I lean Jungian. It's what makes sense/feels right to me. Freudian always seemed like a groundbreaking beginning, but woefully lacking and incomplete.

I keep a detailed, searchable database of dreams, with tags. It's a private, unlinked, password-protected blog that only I have access to. It helps me become aware of patterns and progressions that I would likely miss if I just typed out or wrote my dreams. It helps me make sense of what things and people represent in my dreams.

Most tagged item: poets (152), 2nd: books (61), 3rd: driving (58), 4th: St. Agnes Lane - childhood street (53), 5th: father (50)

My grandfather always discouraged me from remembering my dreams. He said dreams were the brain's garbage and that we should consider anything dreamed to be something that needs to be purged.

I don't believe in "brain garbage." I believe there are many things we don't understand, things that frighten and disturb us, things we very much want to deny or not think about. If your psyche doesn't want you to consider something, why try to bring it to your attention?

When I was in the hospital with Gideon a couple weeks ago, I was surprised that I wasn't having hospital or Gideon dreams there or immediately afterwards. Why am I dreaming about ________? It felt totally unconnected. I discussed a few of my dreams at length with a friend. It became clear the dreams were showing my mental state at the time, all the feelings the event brought up and retriggered, dormant feelings. The dreams were showing some more far reaching implications. There was no need for my psyche to point out where I was or that I was worried about my son. I was already quite conscious of that.

Sometimes I go back to older dreams that I didn't understand at the time to see if they now make sense. Sometimes I see a lot of missed messages.

Sometimes I feel like talking about dreams is like talking about religion. You have to believe. You can lead some to the "light" -- but the rest see you as an annoying Jesus freak, they want nothing more than to get the hell away from you.

But seriously poets, no matter what your school, style or method, no matter if you write from within or take in your surroundings, where the hell do you think your poems are coming from?

The same place that makes your dreams.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I dreamed I was on my way to school. Chris called to tell me that it was going to rain and I should change my pants. I told him to forget it, I was already late for school. I was late for homeroom, I considered going straight to my first period, but knew if I did that I'd be marked absent. On the stairs there were some handicapped students being helped up, they were moving slowly, so I went down the hall to take another set to my homeroom on the third floor. On the second floor I walked past an office. Inside was Joe Biden dressed as a judge.

One of the first straight forward dreams I've had in a long time.

The next dream was about Rebecca Loudon's 3 cats. A dominant male was beating on Paris the Genius cat. I told somebody to open the closet and make sure she wasn't trapped inside. It turns out, she had been.

That one has interesting interpretative possibilities. I always pay attention to dreams involving cats.
In case you haven't been keeping up with No Tells, there's some great summer reading recommendations by Adam Deutsch, Piotr Gwiazda, Steven Karl, Cati Porter, Elizabeth Bradfield, Evie Shockley and Jessy Randall. More recommendations coming in May & June.

No Tells is where all the No Tell related announcements and content is housed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Galatea Resurrects #12

I'm the Featured Poet in the new Galatea Resurrects. Tom Beckett does a thoughtful interview with me, one that I found more challenging than most others, one that I like very much. His questions made me think. Consider the interview a display of my thinking. I'm grateful for the time and effort Tom made to know and consider my work beforehand. The exchange took place in January. A few things have changed since. I am finished writing God Damsel poems and have read Lara Glenum's Maximum Gaga.

The interview is followed by three poems.

There's also a slew of book reviews. Let me direct you to a few.

Dream Mix Tape

Songs that have recently appeared or were referenced in my dreams:

"Devil's Haircut"
"Life is a Highway"
"Emperor's New Clothes"
"Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" (lyrics changed to "respect yourself")
"It's Too Late to Apologize" Timbaland remix (sung by David Beckham)
"Happy Birthday"

undisclosed Red Hot Chili Peppers song (sung by Jill Essbaum)
undisclosed Phil Collins song (sung by Phil Collins)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Still grappling with the events of this past week. Everyone else seems to have gotten over it, Gideon especially, which is good. But I'm still experiencing the remnants of stress and anxiety connected with the intense feeling that he could have died and it would have been completely out of my control. Also, seeing him suffer so much pain, being wheeled away for surgery, waking from surgery . . . again, I felt so utterly helpless, at the whim of a greater power. In short, it messed me up. I'd been feeling pretty wonderful this past month or so, making lots of overdue changes that quickly brought all sorts of benefits and relief. My energy, sense of humor and overall happiness were starting to come back. But this week I'm exhausted again. I'm trying to put it all in some sort of context, more shake-ups were (are) needed, it didn't kill anybody, so we're all totally stronger and shit.

That's right, I'm insanely strong.

I will fuck you sideways, philosophically, or more likely poetically.

Did that make me sound tough or just sort of nutty? My gauge isn't working so good these days.
Dreamed of another song/dance routine the other day. I thought the three teenagers in yellow raincoats were going to jump my boyfriend and me. I was mistaken, they just wanted to perform. Everyone on the street joined in, including my boyfriend, Iceman from X-Men.

The importance of dance as a primal form of ritual enactment is described by the poet Gary Snyder, who states that dance once had a connection with "ritual drama, the miming of animals, or tracing the maze of the spiritual journey." Snyder believes that we have lost touch with this connection and that it is the task of the dancer and the poet to regain it---"to put us in touch with our archaic roots, with the world in its nakedness, which is fundamental to us all: birth---love---death; the sheer fact of being alive." The importance of ritual and the initiation as themes connected to dance is also richly elaborated by Steven Lansdale, who notes that initiatory ceremonies and dances are intended to teach the initiates what they need to survive in harsh environments.

The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness by Stanton Marlan (Texas A&M University Press 2005)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gideon is doing really well. Off all pain meds, running around like normal. I, on the other hand, feel like I've aged at least 10 years -- especially after Sunday afternoon when he fell down an entire flight of stairs. "I fell like a ball" he bragged. It was all a bit much for me. My muscles ache, I walk around with my shoulders touching my ears. I'm starting to wonder if this is all a preschool-wing conspiracy to kill me.

Last night I dreamed that I returned to high school after a mysterious absence. In the cafeteria a bully girl sat in my seat. I asked her to move. She wouldn't. So I picked her up and slammed her against another table. I held her down and dared her to free herself. She couldn't. She told me that I was "insanely strong" and I added that I was very angry too.

When I woke I pondered it, was she saying that I was very strong or did she mean I was intensely crazy? I feel a little crazy after this past week.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My first night back home I dreamed the following things: funny-shaped pills, driving to many cities, a cheer/dance routine performed to a poem, a poet complaining about his sex life, a party, a mall, looking for a toilet in a salon and senseless murder.

Welcome home.

The difference in 3 days

Wednesday evening in the ER

* * *

What was removed Thursday morning

* * *


After our Toys R Us trip (one of the two things I promised to him in the ER, the other promise is Chuck E. Cheese).

Gideon selected a SpongeBob Squarepants guitar.


This morning Gideon took out Chris' appendix with an "appendix outer."

He wanted mine, but I said no way.

Because Gideon's stomach is still tender, he's giving people "booby hugs" instead of "tummy hugs."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wednesday evening we planned on getting Gideon a haircut. But my dirty little hippie had other plans that included appendicitis and an appendectomy. Two words I now know how to spell. I believe I knew Gideon had an appendix, I just never once thought of it before. Wednesday afternoon he complained of a tummy ache and could barely walk, hunched over, grabbing his side. It was clear that he was in serious pain. I took him to the doctor and two hours later we were in the ER. I'm too exhausted to write out the details, but it was a traumatic night for everyone. Thursday morning he had surgery, which was successful and relatively quick (the appendix hadn't burst). We brought him home Friday evening and he's doing well and recuperating.

Chris explained to me that Gideon took the next step in evolution by shedding an unnecessary organ. So please note, not only is my kid better looking than yours, he's also more evolved.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hunging Around

This morning I had one of those dreams that forced me to wake. It's my psyche's way of saying "write this down!" If I don't record it, I lose it. I hate losing dreams. So despite only having a couple hours of sleep, at 5:45 a.m. I got out of bed and added my dream to my database.

It was one of those long, winding dreams, with many details and events. I would walk through a door with a woman (I never saw this woman's face, so let's just assume she's my shadow) and we'd enter another realm. In one realm people's faces were decaying, like dried up corpses. There were ghosts with decaying faces tapping people on the street to die. They went up to a group of gang members and tapped them. Guns were pulled and bullets everywhere.

In another realm I was at a fraternity house. I saw men from my college years. They hadn't aged. I became aware that I was dreaming and when that happens I start paying attention to details. There was an older woman inside. I asked questions and she answered them, but I couldn't hear everything. I started to walk away but then realized, she was the HOUSE MOTHER. She's who I've been looking for!

I ran downstairs and asked What is it I'm supposed to know? She didn't answer. Music started playing. It was C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make you Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" but the words were different. The lyrics were "Respect Yourself." I started dancing around a circular structure with my college friend, Brent. He was wearing a suit and looking pretty fine. I said, Ok, I get the message, but how exactly do I respect myself? He mentioned a time when we spoke and I remembered everyone's names. Without trying. Naturally.

Next I danced with past-boyfriend, Marcus. Two Marcuses, actually, current Marcus and young Marcus (when we dated in college). Current Marcus said You wrote ______ Fiji, that was good too. I was confused, then I realized he was referring to God Damsel. I told him that I liked Young Marcus better.

Then Matt Hunging approached me. Who's Matt Hunging? I don't know, but I knew him in the dream. I think he was from both realms, frat boy and soon-to-be corpse. His face was starting to decay, there was something stuck in his mouth, or cutting it. He was gruesome and I didn't want him near me. He wanted to take me away from this realm. He was disrespectful, he fondled my breast. I yelled. Then I woke.

* * *

Decay, death and corpses generally don't bother me in dreams (unless it's something I love). Some things need to decay and die.

Matt Hunging, hurry up and decompose already! It's difficult to respect oneself with you around.

hide the family silver when I come to dinner

I had a doctor appointment this morning. On my way out, two pharmaceutical salesmen got on the elevator with me. One carried a large bag bulging with samples. I wondered how much would the contents of that bag get on the black market. I kept reminding myself, don't stare at the bag or they'll be on to you. I knew there was no way I could take on the both of them. I thought this recession is giving me a criminal mind. I became concerned. Then I became quite pleased with myself. This is good news for poems.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chris and Gideon prepared fresh pineapple for breakfast and later took me to Michael Gushue and Dan Vera's reading.

Now I'm watching Goldblum on Crimminal Intent.

Mother's day doesn't get better than this.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saving My Pickle for Later

The other night I dreamed that I went to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. I got my glasses out of my purse so I could see. There were a bunch of hovering objects over her desk. She told me to focus on the pickle and tell her what I saw. Is it improving or getting worse? she asked. The pickle was getting worse, it was blackening. As I contemplated the pickle, I became aware that the pickle represented the masculine.

Heh, so maybe I'll lay off the man poets for a bit, it's wilting my pickle.

See, pickles are one of my dream phalluses. I dream about snakes, but in my dreams, these snakes usually something related to wisdom or knowledge.

Now if I ever dream of a snake swallowing a pickle . . .

When interpreting a dream, you should always be conscious of symbols, signs and archetypes.

You should also be aware that symbols and signs greatly vary and often conflict among different times and cultures. For instance, a swastika has stood for many things over the centuries.

It's not that unusual to dream of a symbol you can't recall ever seeing. Once I dreamed angels showed me a white space with a bunch of lines. I had no idea what I was shown. Months later when I was in a museum in Dublin, I saw some very similar symbols on a stone, an early Medieval alphabet called Ogham. There were other objects in that museum that reminded me of that dream too. That was a dream that I came to with no obvious previous associations and only later stumbled across them.

But first and foremost when considering your dreams, you need to explore what your personal associations are to an object or person. It's your psyche. It's going to use your associations to communicate with you.

Earlier this week I dreamed of baby raccoons. If you used some lame dream dictionary (don't) it would tell you that raccoons stand for thievery, sneakiness in the dead of night. Well, no raccoon ever thieved from me and every time I've come across a raccoon, it's been during the day.

My first personal association is from a few years back when I saw a mother raccoon carrying her babies down from my roof. For a month they were living up there. The second thing that comes to mind is my childhood Davy Crockett coon hat. The last thing I think when considering raccoons: rabies.

The first two associations are specific and personal to me, the third is more common. I approach my dreams with my associations first.

Another example, politicians. Different dreamers will have wildly varying associations attached to a specific politician. You must consider the dreamer's impression to grasp what it means in that dream. No symbol or reference books will help you.

The same goes for poets. I've dreamed of hundreds of poets, mostly living. It's quite the exercise to figure out my associations, especially poets who I only know by their poems and sometimes, just their reputations. Often I scratch my head and say, do I have an association for this poet?

Turns out, I do.
So very sad to hear about Craig.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Let Me Build You a Statue

These Delirious Hem pieces are amazing and thought provoking. I could write a response to each and every one of them if time was no object.

So what to add? How about a confession I'm not supposed to make. When I was pregnant, I desperately wanted a boy and when I found out I was having a boy, I cried with joy.

What the hell? What's my problem with girls? Do I think boys are better, more valuable? Of course not. Would I have loved a daughter any less? I seriously doubt it. I grew up in a house where the boy was openly given preferential treatment over the girls. Not only was there no one on either side of the family who would ever call themselves a feminist, the boys and men definitely were more valuable and better respected. I am familiar with how that stings a girl growing up.

If I had a daughter, I likely would never mention such a preference for concern that she'd misconstrue it to mean that I didn't want her.

But I did have a preference. There are some personal, complicated reasons, but also there is a philosophical one. I want to try to contribute to society a man who is thoughtful, introspective and considerate. Somebody who doesn't view himself as the center, the norm, the standard. A man who can both respect and not take advantage of the women of his generation. As feminists and mothers in general, I believe we spend a lot of time making up for what current society lacks and preparing our daughters to handle that. I think this is incredibly important and must continue. But I think some of us overlook how we need to prepare our sons. It's easy to do, society offers so many more advantages to our sons. But society fails them on many other levels. Raising our sons not to grow up to become the "hey wanna fuck" types might be a start, but it's hardly enough. We need to change how we raise both girls and boys.

I know a lot of poet-moms and poet-dads. I am rather shocked by the disconnect between the two. In general. I'm speaking generally, I know of a number of exceptions. I'm not discussing the exceptions in this post. I'm discussing a trend.

For instance, many of the poet-dads brag about "changing a lot of diapers" or staying home a day or two a week to watch their children. Yes, that's great. Yes, it undoubtedly is helpful to the mother. Yes, that's likely a big step forward from what their fathers did. But these guys see themselves as heros almost, like what their doing is above and beyond the expectation. It doesn't occur to them that 30% of diaper changing and 20% of childcare is closer to being described as supplemental.

I wouldn't even mind this imbalance if there was at least an better awareness of it. A poet-dad admitting that his wife does the bulk of the child rearing which allows him to write more and travel, well that's a totally different situation. That's awareness and honesty. He's not inflating himself or diminishing her.

Can you imagine a poet-mom bragging that she changes a lot of diapers? Your response would be, um, yeah, that's part of raising a baby. If I bragged about staying home to watch my child, you'd stare and scratch your head. Yes, you're a mother, you don't leave your young child alone to fend for himself. How many times have I heard a poet-dad say he's "babysitting" his own children? How can one babysit his own child? Aren't poets supposedly be conscious of their word choices? How many poet-dads of young children go away to writing colonies for a month at a time without a second thought? It's kind of amazing. I go away for three nights and am constantly reminded, often by complete strangers, how lucky (and of course, selfish I am) to leave my son with his own father.

Chris has yet to eat Gideon, but perhaps he's just waiting for him to plump up some.

I often ask myself how did these otherwise intelligent, thoughtful, generally decent poet-dads become this way? I'm quite fond of many of them, consider many my friends. I'm not saying their not good fathers. They certainly are.

But I don't want my son to grow up with their approaches, assumptions and perceptions. I don't want him to grow up and be like them.

Has writing this lost me the esteem or friendship of a poet-dad? I hope not. It's not my intention.

I think many of these poets-dads had hardworking, intelligent, loving mothers who tried to do as much as they could. I don't think their mothers made a big deal about how much work and sacrifice they were doing. So these boys grew into men who didn't give it much thought. That's just what women did. These poet-dads love women. They recognize their talents. They want to be more involved parents than their own fathers. In many cases they are. In theory they believe in equality, fairness and somehow convince themselves they're living it. They don't understand where the poet-mom's frustration and anger stems from. They don't see the situation as a shared problem. They are oblivious to how they contribute to it. They're unaware at how insensitive, selfish and borderline cruel this stance can be. Any women who points that out to them is UNBALANCED or UNWELL. It's not the situation that is unbalanced or sickly, it's her.

Or maybe she's just JEALOUS.

Maybe she is jealous?

The poet-mom is expected to toil in silence. Aren't all mothers? Why should she be different? No whining about difficulty, buck up! Nobody MADE you become a mom-poet. You choose it.

Love it or leave it!

Poet-moms are held to a higher standard. Expected to perform superhero feats minus the superhero status. Expected to write, publish, critique, plus do the bulk of child rearing and family managing. Poet-moms are also blamed for all these number troubles in literary journals. If women were writing poems instead of having babies, we'd publish them!

I want to blame poet-dads for something.

Rabies. Poet-dads are responsible for rabies. And scabies. And shingles. Unfair? Shut up. You made the choice to become a poet-dad, it's time you carried some of this suck it up weight.

I also bite my tongue when I hear poet-moms discuss all the work at home they're doing, basically waiting on their sons and husbands. Cooking the majority of the meals, doing the majority of the cleaning and all the other household responsibilities added on to their writing, projects and jobs. I have sympathy for their situations, but I want to say why aren't you making these boys and men participate more? Why aren't you requiring it? You're not doing them any favors. They're gonna grow up like our generation and expect the women to do everything and not even be conscious of the imbalance. I kind of think this next generation of women we're raising are going to be much less forgiving and understanding than we are. Because as feminists, we're raising them not to be so forgiving and understanding of inequality and double-standards. Not as partners, not as colleagues and not as friends.

For goodness sake, let's at least try to prepare our sons for this next wave of dauntless daughters. Let's give them the 21st skillz to pay the 21st century billz. Let's not write them off as doomed to be oblivious. For everyone's sake.

What I'm trying to do (and to find out if I'm successful, come back in 20 or 30 years), is raise my son to have a higher level of awareness than what I see in a number of my man poet peers. To not feel entitled (cause the world will be a very cruel place for him if he does think this way). I don't want him to perceive that 20 or 30% is somehow equal or will just have to do. I want him to be aware of imbalance and appreciate differences. Not only recognize talent and acknowledge hard work of women, but also not be an opportunist taking advantage of that talent and hard work for his own benefit.

This is a task I'm still trying to figure out. It's a learn-as-you-go thing.

As a mother, I consider this my calling. I feel that as feminist [poet] I'm supposed to be a mother of a son.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Tracking

One of my summer projects (distractions from pressing work) is to catalogue all of my books on Goodreads. I love Goodreads. It's a thousand times more interesting and valuable than Facebook. Granted the star ranking system is sort of sketchy, but seeing what people are reading and liking and not-liking is fascinating. Until recently, the majority of the books I added were either recent reads (last three years) or memorable books.

But what about all the rest?

I catalogued one shelf this afternoon (bottom shelf, single author collections, Z through part of S). Some of the books I remember reading, but don't remember much or anything about them. It wouldn't be appropriate to give them any kind of ranking. There are books that I remember having an opinion on, but I'm not so sure my opinion would be the same now. No rankings for those either. Then there are books that I don't even remember reading. In some cases, maybe I didn't or maybe I quit early into the book. Who knows. Some books I don't recognize and wonder if they were put there by goblins. I blame/thank the magic ring!

So I'm curious to what's in these books my shelves claim I read. Maybe another summer project? But I own over 100 books on my to-read pile (128 according to Goodreads) that I'm quite positive I haven't read, ever.

Oh this Fool's Journey is a time consuming one. I'm gonna be a dumdum for a long time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


While it's sometimes considered cliche, my thinking is a little closer to this. That's in line with the concept of Fool that I'm writing about here.

The idea of Fool that I'm drawn to is "the newly incarnated soul, a blank slate free of the imprints it is soon to receive from the society of men." This is supposedly what children arrive as -- although anyone who's been around a young child having a nightmare, knows that's not truly the case. We don't come with a purely blank slate, there's DNA, collective consciousness, past life remnants (if you believe in that stuff).

It's a blanker slate. No one can remain in such a state, or at least we're not supposed to. It would be deadly to remain Fool/child for an extended period of time. Eventually chasing the ball into the lion's mouth with end with your death.

But it's not a bad place to try to get to every once in a while. Especially for poets.

What I want to attain is not anti-experience or ignorance, but to restart from a less tainted (informed) place, a blanker place and regather experience, which hopefully would be in new, more enlightening way. I'm looking for the Fool's Journey.

Getting to the blanker place is the challenge. Forgetting what one knows is not easy -- even with a magic ring.

Today Gideon and I pondered how his toy car's roof sunk in.

I proposed: Maybe an elephant sat on it?

Gideon proposed: Maybe while we were asleep the stars used their imagination and smashed it with a hammer?

Clearly I have a ways to go.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Children of Men Poets

As I waited for Gideon to finish with speech therapy, I read the first three essays by Anne Boyer, Brandi Homan and Mary Biddinger in Delirious Hem's latest forum: This is What a Feminist [Poet] Looks Like.

It got me thinking about something that happened recently. I had a wee bit too much to drink and some man poet said something a wee bit inappropriate, but I still had some level of sense to just walk away. About a minute later I joined the conversation of a group of poets and started speaking with another man poet (this one we'd call "successful") who years ago also said something a wee bit inappropriate. I have a very long memory for these kinds of things.

Funny how we unconsciously go towards what we're consciously trying to avoid.

Well, I must have used up all my sense for the evening because I rather rudely told this man poet what I thought of him. In a hilarious and entertaining way, of course. Or at least hilarious and entertaining to those around us.

There was a young woman, a student, in the group. She was the only woman in this group of roughly 6 poets. Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely) she took the successful male poet's defense and started ragging on me with him. I stopped my drunken verbal assault and in a moment of clarity, turned to her and asked "How old are you?" She said 20. Then I said something along the lines of "I get that you want all these man poets to like you and I'm sure they do, but you're limiting your options. The direction you're choosing, eating those like you for the approval of them, it has a real low ceiling that you'll hit in no time."

I can't remember if I used the term "daughter of the patriarchy" or not. Probably not.

Next morning I woke up and felt that tinge of regret one feels when one had a wee bit too much to drink. I saw the young woman and she seemed perfectly OK. I told this tale to an older, non-poet lady friend. She thought the young woman wasn't annoyed with me because she appreciated what I said.

Well, I don't know if she appreciated it or not, but she should have appreciation, if not now, maybe later. I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

I also told this tale to Charlie. Charlie suggested that I did not want for man poets and one less man poet in my realm was really no big deal. In fact, I could let go of a few more. He's right.

You know, just because a lady poet uses salty language that does not make her promiscuous or interested in you and what an incredibly egotistical leap for you to make. It does not make it OK for you to say "Hey, wanna go (somewhere) and fuck?" It's not funny. It's threatening. It's unwanted. And really gross. And that's the "wee bit inappropriate" comment made by both poets. And it's not OK. And it (and things similar) happens way too frequently. And I should be pissed off when it happens. Those are not the types of man poets I want in my realm nor do I want their defenders or apologists.

This is another version of what a [Tired of it All] Feminist [Poet] looks like.


I'm not so sure about this magic ring. I wore it overnight for the first time and I woke up not feeling so great around 6 a.m. I fell back asleep and dreamed that I was being unnecessarily testy with an Olive Garden waitress and afterward my sister commended me on my testiness. Then I woke up and spent most of Sunday being testy (not to waitresses and not with my sister cheering me on, but in general). Maybe my body needs time to adjust to the magic. I'll give it a few more days. I don't want to miss out on magical goodness because of my low tolerance.

You know, I had a magic ring in 6th grade and kids teased me about it. Eventually I stopped wearing it. That's something I regret.

Don't you tease me. I have a magic ring and I'm all grown up and I'm not afraid to use it.

Or blog about it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Softening and Untangling the Thinking

Two dreams in over the past two nights about Rauan Klassnik and I can't remember any of the details. Frustrating.

One dream I do remember from this morning is swimming underwater playing some kind of fish game, where once the fish get enough to eat I draw a line around them and get points for catching them. Except I wasn't doing very well. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn't catching the fish. They hadn't eaten enough.

Then I found some hair products and heard my dad's voice tell me it was good that I found them.

This reminds me of a dream back in February where Rauan put conditioner in my hair.

So what is conditioning my thinking?

Rauan Klassnik is not important to my thinking.

Hah, hah, that's an old joke from an old blog from many years ago.

I dream of fish A LOT.

I'm reminded of another dream from June 2008 where an uncle (someone I'd classify as a "fool") told me that if I ever wanted to learn how to feed the fish, to just ask him.

Yesterday I wrote that I wanted to approach life as a novice, a beginner, in another term, a fool -- and here this dream shows I don't know how yet, I don't know how to feed the fish, but I find the conditioner and maybe that's a start.

Now where is Rauan to give me that scalp massage?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Maybe Later

Danny Gans passed away. I've been to Vegas twice, once staying in the hotel where he was performing, but never saw him perform. Everyone told me that he was the guy to see. I planned on it. Next time, I thought. That come to think of it, sounds a lot like Gideon's "maybe later" reply that is code for "no way, fuck off." He's 4 and has already declined on a whole host of things that shock me. You don't know what you're missing! I often tell him. You would love this. or There's more to life than pizza, grilled cheese and noodles.

I'm reminded of the time as an undergrad when I skipped Allen Ginsberg's reading. He spoke to our class in the afternoon, and yeah, he was kinda cool, but the reading was Friday night and I wanted to go out-of-town with my boyfriend. Out-of-town was Northern VA and my boyfriend is now my husband. So far I've spent 15 years in Northern Virginia with Chris and will likely spend many more. But I'll never have a chance to hear Ginsberg read. I unknowingly chose the considerably less unique experience. Maybe one could even say I chose love over poetry and perhaps on that instance I did. But here I am married and writing poems, so it really wasn't a choice after all. It was one missed opportunity. I've missed many.

Today I'm thinking of someone I recently met. Someone who was incredibly warm and kind to me. I was kind in return. I thought, "I like that guy" and that was that. It was a busy time, I was distracted. We could get to know one another some other day. You know, "maybe later." Now I'm thinking that might be another one of my many missed opportunities. Maybe I won't get a chance to develop a friendship with that person. Maybe I really missed out.

Obviously we can't follow up on every opportunity that comes our way, nor should we. There are definitely opportunities best passed on. But I'd to be more open to what I haven't been.

I want to approach life as a novice again.