Wednesday, September 30, 2009

our evolving crystalline structures and our awakening as multi-dimensional poets

Yes, I copied that text off the Tarot card packaging. But it's not Flarf, OK?

Last week at the Fall for the Book Festival Ron Silliman gave a talk on literary blogging. He opened the discussion with how he started blogging and gave some history of poetry movements and publishing in the US. If you follow his blog, you are already familiar with that part of his talk.

I asked him why he thought so many younger poets rejected his labeling a wide, varied group of poets as "School of Quietude" and why many rejected all labels for themselves and their poetry. I labeled anyone under 50 to be "younger," which he called me on -- so let's just say the two or three generations of poets after him. I'm am not desperately holding onto my youth. I embrace my middle-agedness.

It's been a week since he gave the talk and I'm School-of-I-don't-take-notes, but what I understood Ron to be saying was that he thought poets (and people in general) today view themselves more as individuals, but in doing so we're not accepting our social responsibility of considering the impact of our poems and the legacy we leave behind. He said that he thought labels were good and that if we didn't label ourselves, we could expect our "enemies" to do it for us (he listed some examples, for instance how the Beats were named by an unsympathetic critic).

I didn't take his use of the term "enemies" to be literal, but I bristled at both that and the idea being especially concerned with our legacies. Not that I don't think we're not responsible for our poems, I certainly do believe we are responsible. I just think there are different (better?) ways to be socially responsible than by attaching oneself to a group or drawing lines in the sand, viewing differing poetics and poets as opposition. That doesn't mean one can't acknowledge differences or conflicts in differing poetics. We're not all the same. Describing or even labeling differences isn't what bothers me. It's the us and them part. I don't see that as being socially responsible. I don't see that benefiting poetry or poets, not the art, the community or the individuals. I see that as funneling a lot of energy into distinguishing hair-splitting differences and defending a platform one may not entirely agree with for consistency sake or staying within a group. It strikes me as rather limiting.

Ron also said that many poets today are taking a little from here and a little from there instead of studying any one type of poetry or its history in great depth. He's probably right. That would certainly describe me. Why not do that? Why not educate oneself broadly instead of narrowly specializing? Or why not start out broad and focus in depth once feels confidence in one's own artistic identity? Why not grow organically as a poet and just see where that takes you? Why not be a blended poet? In a time when fewer people identify with a sole identity, why would we be expected to identify with one style of poetics? 30 (20?) years ago, bi-racial people were labeled as one race (usually not by their own choice, but by the culture they lived in). The same went for people's cultures, religions, politics, national identity, sexual orientation, career, family, etc. For most people, there were a set number of slots and they had to fit into one. Now that we're starting to move away from those kinds of ideas, isn't it natural that we'd begin to view other things, like poetry, as more multi-faceted?

Isn't the refusal to align oneself with one poetic an evolution of poetry? Could it be that poets are not necessarily any more self-centered or any less socially concerned than poets 50 years ago, but instead rejecting structures that are becoming less applicable and useful today? Could it be that poets are being offered opportunities at greater personal power and are using those opportunities to carve a poetic landscape better suited for poetry, themselves and yes, for future generations to modify and build on. Isn't that a way of considering one's legacy? I don't want future poets to feel constrained by a handful of categories or feel required to create one themselves?

Can't we maintain a personal poetics AND be contributing members to poetry communities and our communities-at-large? I don't need to be a Boy Scout to help a little old lady cross the street. I don't need to be a member of a congregation to donate time or money to worthy causes. I don't need to be a member of a political party to vote.

That's how I see it, anyway.

While Ron was here he went to dinner with my family. A good portion of the conversation revolved around computers and his and Chris' money jobs. Afterwards Chris made an astute observation. Ron does the same in both his money job and on his poetry blog. He identifies and analyzes trends to predict what's coming around the bend. It's an interesting, dare I say individual, way to approach poetry. Who says poets don't have marketable skills?
I better hurry up and write this before all my brilliant words slide out my ear. I wanted to write about this earlier but with my reading on Saturday, Karl Parker's PERSONATIONSKIN galley arriving (which is awesome, fyi, btw), today's deadline for Sundress' Best of the Net nominations and Gideon's fever, I had trouble making the time. Although Gideon's fever was an opportunity to have a bed-in and set him up with his own (locked) Twitter account so he will no longer be rogue/guest tweeting on No Tell's. What did parents do with their sick kids before laptops and wireless?

No, you cannot follow his twitter, although Steve Irwin (from the grave?) has already tried.

If you're really curious, most of his tweets read something like this: @notell tgjgutiuy utnfhfhf jgjjguuyyy hvhgggg hhhhhhhgg 2009 20190 PM AM

Hmm, that all reads like a Cackling Jackal post.

I'm leaving it up anyhow.

Also, I just got two new Tarot decks that I'm chomping at the bit to try out. One has a FIFTH element (an additional suit!): Fire, Water, Air, Earth . . . and Ether!

I'm going to make a new post for the Silliman literary blogging panel cause now I'm just rambling . . . cause oh my god, a fifth suit that addresses the higher vibrational gifts emerging with the shift of energy occurring through the activation of our DNA codes, our evolving crystalline structures, and our awakening as multi-dimensional beings.

I can hardly concentrate with the shrink wrapped deck one foot away.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eh, my hopes that September would be back on a schedule were dashed. Maybe calm is in the cards for October. Or maybe I'll run away to Peru and elope with a giraffe.

Recently I offered a writing prompt and was interviewed at The Poetry Instigator.

The reading on Saturday evening went well. We had a good turn out and I finally met Cathy Eisenhower and Chris Nealon. Mel Nichols read a poem about a guy on FB superpoking her all the time. She used his name in the poem, which I recognized because I, too, was once his superpoke target. He's the reason I now block all "pokes." Well, he's one of the reasons. I think it's rude to "poke" people, especially strangers. I remember my first week on FB some other dude I didn't know gave me a "foot rub." As if. Way to alert me to your creepiness! Anyhow, it's been a long time since I heard a poem at a reading that truly spoke to my life experience.

The poem made absolutely no sense to Chris. Not because it was Flarf, but because he has no idea what is Superpoke. I know, it's like living with Andy Rooney. Chris refuses to go on FB because, as he says, the only thing on FB is stalkers, creeps and his wife.

Ya know, maybe people wouldn't be flinging their skanky thongs at me if he was there to defend my honor. Just saying.

In other Fall for the Book Festival commentary, I want to write something about Ron Silliman's literary blogging talk. Maybe in the next couple days when I make some time to compose my thoughts.

In the meantime, hey, look at me, I'm loved and stuff.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just got back from Ron Silliman & Rae Armantrout's reading at Fall for the Book. It was the first time I heard either read and I wasn't disappointed.

I was "recognized" by the young man sitting next to me.

He's a reader of this blog.

Yesterday I learned that two students put together a No Tell Motel Fan Page.

I will be wearing a disguise and calling myself Esmerelda at the publishing panel I'm participating in tomorrow.

Poet Paparazzi, stay back.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goblin or goofball? I realized today that "marlan" dream was a direct reference to this book I read and mentioned here a few months back.

Black sun, alchemy, art. No light without darkness. Dark containing its own light. The cure to suffering: more suffering.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Went to the library yesterday and brought home 4 books on Heaven/death, a book on why leaves change colors, another on ancient Egyptian gods and picture book by Gary Soto about a little girl who gets a car. My favorite is the one where the fox gets sick, goes into the woods and dies. His animal family gets depressed and spends their days moping in their treehouse until one day a squirrel comes over for dinner. They start reminiscing how the fox was a really shitty cook. That makes them all feel better and decide that life goes on.

I love a happy ending.

Fall for the Book

I'll be participating in two events at this year's Fall for the Book.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2009: 12:00 pm, Publishing in Local Journals (Johnson Center, Dewberry Hall South, George Mason University), Fairfax, VA
PANELISTS: Dave Housley of Barrelhouse and Reb Livingston of No Tell Motel
MODERATOR: Moriah Purdy

That's in direct competition with a reading by Charles Jensen and Deborah Ager. Not sure why it was scheduled that way, but if Dave Housley is really boring I might leave our panel and walk over to the reading.

Afterwards there's a bookfair from 1:30 - 5:00, I'll be selling some books there.

* AND *

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2009: 8:00pm, DC Poets Reading (Miller's Tavern, formerly known as The Firehouse Grill, 3988 University Drive), Fairfax, VA
READERS: Cathy Eisenhower, Reb Livingston, Chris Nealon, Mel Nichols

Friday, September 18, 2009


The death discussion is progressing. Last night Gideon asked if cell phones grow up and die. I said no. Then Chris came home and said, yes, cell phones die. I had to interject and explain that while cell phones can break and stop working and someone might say "the cell phone died," it's not the same thing as when a person dies.

Chris and I really need to get on the same page with all of this.

This lead up to the age versus size discussion. Gideon doesn't buy the whole "you stop growing around age 18" concept. Just flat out thinks it's bullshit.

Last night I was shaking my booty, showing off my new jeans to Chris. You see, I lost 10 pounds and am 2 sizes smaller than I was in April. As I wrote here earlier, I attribute the weight loss to my energy visualization techniques to unblock and remove negative energy in my body and soul. Which makes me weird, I know. But you know what? Weird is working for me.

On our drive back from NYC last week, we stopped for dinner. In the Cracker Barrel parking lot I had this epiphany: My pants were going slide right down my ass if I didn't hold them up.

So yesterday, I bought jeans in a size that I haven't worn since the 90's. Then, in the excitement of the moment I bought a shade of lip gloss called "Happiness." And then, I went home and resumed our above-mentioned family death ruminations.

Gideon interprets getting "smaller" to mean that I'm getting younger. He lectured me on how this was my opportunity to finally attend preschool. I had told him that I didn't get the chance go to preschool when I was his age in one of those lame attempts at conveying to a child how fortunate he really is. It kind of backfired. He doesn't consider himself lucky, he thinks I'm a big loser. He's appalled. Listening to him go on about the importance of preschool is like enduring a parent lecture you on not getting that Ph.D., even though you're perfectly happy and doing just fine without it. I kept telling him, I have an MFA! Don't you know, that's a TERMINAL degree!

Lastly in this death update, I dreamed of another memorial service. This time for a powerful, wealthy woman who I did not know. Her name was Marlan and there was a lot of food involved. Now I'm wondering if she was Marlin, like a fish, which we all know is Jesus for the secret handshake. Right?

Or maybe it means I'm gobbling up death.

Reb Livingston, MFA, Death Goblin

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Since Uncle Peter passed away, death has become a regular theme in our abode. Gideon is trying to wrap his mind around the concept and is asking a lot of questions. I'm told it was all he wanted to talk about in speech therapy. For the last two nights in a row he's asked us to read him the book about ancient Egyptians and their embalming practices. This morning on the way to school he asked a question about a pedestrian light. I explained what it was for and reminded him that we use them often when we go into cities and cross busy streets. I said that they put them in places where there's a lot of people walking. Gideon said there was no need for pedestrian lights anymore because so many people are dying, there's just not enough people left. This all goes back to his shock over the number of graves at the cemetery.

I pointed out that while people do die, there's a lot of new people coming along. I mentioned 4 new babies he knows of and reminded him of his cousin on-the-way. I tried not to be crass by saying something like "Out with the old, in with the new" but I wanted to convey the idea of cycles. Probably way too much for a 4 year old. He's convinced we have a population shortage. It probably doesn't help that every other day I'm running into the room announcing the latest celebrity death.

Death has been on my mind as well apparently. A few days before Peter passed I started regularly dreaming of memorial services, corpses and other death-related themes. In one dream my friend died and I cried "But he's the third one this week!" And he was, according to my dreams. I think yesterday I might have dreamed that I died and was on the way to my memorial service. I had a hard time holding on to the details of that one. So I was relieved this morning when I woke with the dream of planning Gideon's birthday party, frantically running around a mall trying to find helium for balloons.

Bring on the birthday parties I say!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wind Like Swayze

Neither swayze nor Soviets breathe
grease for they have no ghosts to reach.
Swayze meant

how to treat a lady, surfing, booby-traps,
no longer bunking with ponyboy tranquility.
Growing up, the swayze introduction,

complicated and wong foo,
my own state-of-the art double deuce, a
high-security facility I rule as swayze.

What I'm admitting to is bank robbery,
gender bends, possibly slavery, but not
a kiddie dungeon. I see the fear!

Muzzled and swayze, baby heads my wolverine,
swings me round and round Nebraska.
It's just us girls, my whoopi,
my swayze.

first published in The Scrambler (2007)
This past week I dreamed of finding a field of corpses and crying, riding a train with a corpse, being turned away from a meditation school because the guru said I didn't have the right temperament and a teenage girl with keys to my house.

Last night I dreamed that my ride arrived, it was a Kleenex box with holes cut out on top. I did my I Dream of Jeannie impersonation and turned into smoke to get inside. When we had trouble taking off, I told everyone to visualize a large rocket connected to the box. When we had trouble navigating the wind and doors, I told everybody to visualize taking control with our arms. We were doing well. Then a man told me he didn't like me pushing my visualization techniques on others.

When I woke, I asked my spiffy new pendulum if the man represented a part of me or something external. The pendulum explained that this man is part of me and that I'm supposed to ignore him. I was relieved to learn that. I bet that man attends that snooty meditation school. Yeah well, I don't need them telling me how to work my psychic powers. My visualization techniques flew that Kleenex box. It's not about the degree or who you study with, it about what you can do.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Radio Hotline - Tonight

I'll be one of the guests tonight on The Radio Hotline with Dennis Price tonight from 8-10 p.m. on WEBR channel 37.

You can listen to it live on the website or if you're in Northern VA you can listen to it on cable channel 37. I don't think it'll be archived online, so listen or miss it, I guess.
Gideon likes to write letters.

He addresses the letters to URLs.

It looks something like:

We leave these letters in our mailbox.

I haven't the heart to tell Gideon that the postman never takes them.

Gideon knows our zip code.

He uses it to check our forecast on


He told me that he Wakes Up with Al.

He said that I wake up with Al too.

I most certainly do not wake with Al.

Gideon has imaginary parents.

He says he has 100 daddies and 2 mommies.

I interpret this as a reference to his angels, spirit guides, messengers, etc.

The other day Chris pulled into a parking spot next to a jacked-up, giant pick-up truck with an inane bumper sticker that I found offensive and stupid.

I said, "Don't park next to this idiot, he's gonna ding our car."

Gideon said, "He's not an idiot! He's my daddy."

Gideon told a story about how that daddy can never sleep because his truck is always bouncing up and down, making all kinds of noise.

Then I had to assure Chris that I wasn't nailing the dipshit with the monster truck.

Parenting can be so tricky sometimes.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chris' beloved Uncle Peter passed away so we'll be headed up to NYC sometime next week for his memorial service.

I experienced the panic I experience with every funeral, the oh my god, how am I going to travel for a funeral when I already have scheduled ________. I'm getting better at it now. After my initial panic attack, I'm now able to switch to a calmer disposition pretty quickly. It'll be OK to cancel appointments, miss a preschool orientation or even Gideon missing his first day of preschool, if need be. I missed the first day of 11th grade and look how well I turned out.

While sometimes confusing, my dreams of late are true gifts of insight and guidance. For instance, last night I dreamed that we took the train to NYC for Peter's service. Because Chris had to buy tickets at the last minute, all that was left was "deluxe" class. On the train I realized I hardly packed anything, except a few things like a toothbrush. While a little apprehensive, I decided it was a relief not have to carry a bunch of stuff around. In our cabin there were drawers and cupboards filled with "angel" chocolate bars and "spiritual" activity books for Gideon among the Reese Cups and Swiss Miss cocoa. There was even a door that led to a chapel. The attendant asked if I wanted her to show me the bar, and I was all "hell yeah!" She poured me a glass of sparkling water, which I drank as I mentally planned champagne for my next drink. Then I remembered I was pregnant and reconsidered the champagne. Chris and I walked out another door, which at first I thought was a rooftop patio on the train. There were random businessmen milling around. But we weren't outside, we were inside a dome that was showing something like a movie. It was breathtaking. It was sky and energy and who knows what else. Chris grabbed my hand and we walked around, right through some water. I wanted to turn around because I was worried I'd ruin my shoes and get blisters if they got wet. We kept walking and then the movie turned scary -- we were confronted with monsters, demons and fire, they were saying Mothra. We knew this was a movie, so we remained calm but we were unnerved. We slowly stepped back as the monsters and demons approached.

It was really a beautiful dream, going on a spiritual journey with my family, and sure, yeah, we were gonna have to face our demons and a touch of hellfire, but hey, isn't that what a spiritual journey is all about? Angel chocolate, remembering you're pregnant and Mothra?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My breakup with my pilates studio went incredibly smoothly, a little too smoothly.

My feelings are hurt.

Why didn't they beg me to stay or at least cry?

We were together for four years!

That has to mean something, doesn't it?

Perhaps because they know I'll be back.

Apparently my math was off and I have two already-paid-for sessions left (and no, they don't do refunds).

Still, it would be nice to at least feel like I'd be missed.

Chris says it's likely they don't do a hard sell because it's a turnoff.

He thinks the no pressure approach is smarter for them.

Of course he might just be saying that so I stop moping.

Nobody love me, everybody hates me.
I'm gonna go eat worms.
Big fat juicy ones.
Little tiny squirmy ones.
I'm gonna go eat worms.

Which interestingly enough is what Gideon was "feeding" me yesterday.

The boy has "the gift."

He gave me a reading using the tattoo cards that Rebecca Loudon sent for him.

He told me not to tell anybody what he said.

So I won't.