Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A nice year in review piece

The Buffalo Beast has just released
their 50 Most Loathsome list, and I have few complaints.

A few of the highlights:

17. Hillary Clinton
Charges: Began in politics as a teenage Nixon supporter --
that's twisted. Moved on to corporate law, representing
Wal-Mart and bravely defending Coca-Cola from disabled
employees. Married out of ambition. Failed miserably
as the first lady of health care. Has spent whole of
senatorial career as a hawk and a panderer. Would have no
shot at becoming president if she didn't just happen to be
married to one already.

Exhibit A: Has deftly avoided the flip-flopper label --
by never, ever answering a question directly or
committing to a position in the first place.

Sentence: Victim of vast right wing conspiracy to shove
a brick up her ass.

9. You
Charges: You believe in freedom of speech, until
someone says something that offends you. You suddenly
give a damn about border integrity, because the
automated voice system at your pharmacy asked you to
press 9 for Spanish. You cling to every scrap of bullshit
you can find to support your ludicrous belief system,
and reject all empirical evidence to the contrary.
You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism --
it's nationalism when foreigners do it. You hate anyone
who seems smarter than you. You care more about zygotes
than actual people. You love to blame people for their
misfortunes, even if it means screwing yourself over.
You still think Republicans favor limited government.
Your knowledge of politics and government are
dwarfed by your concern for Britney Spears' children.
You think buying Chinese goods stimulates our economy.
You think you're going to get universal health care.
You tolerate the phrase "enhanced interrogation
techniques." You think the government is actually
trying to improve education. You think watching CNN
makes you smarter. You think two parties is enough.
You can't spell. You think $9 trillion in debt is
manageable. You believe in an afterlife for the sole
reason that you don't want to die. You think lowering
taxes raises revenue. You think the economy's doing well.
You're an idiot.

Exhibit A: You couldn't get enough Anna Nicole Smith coverage.

Sentence: A gradual decline into abject poverty as you
continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an
easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn't cover.
You deserve it, chump.

I might make a last minute nomination:

The San Francisco Police Department. Have you assholes heard
of tranquilizer darts?

Friday, December 21, 2007

This Scab's for Hire

With the Writer's Guild strike continuing,
and Conesy, Colbert and Stewart deciding (or
having it decided) that the show must go on.
I've been kicking myself for not being in
Nuevo Jorc or Los Angeles.

Seems there are enough underemployed
writers/playwrights who could fill in the
gap of the Guild.

I am profoundly pro-Union, but from the onset,
I've been thinking about how this strike
would be very costly to the grips, the
make up artists, the light guys, etc. My
pro-Union stance is more based on working
people, and these are the workers of the
television world.

Now, it would be no tragedy to me if all
of television went up in flames, as long
as I can still get basketball games. I'd
probably get a lot more done if there wasn't
basketball, but that's not the point.

It is with us to stay, I think, and here
we are, giving away so much content online
in the first place. I have two blogs, a
soundclick, a few myspace pages for bands,
and on and on. So, here's my pitch to the
denizens of the tube:

I'll work for scale. If I get to mail it
in, half of scale. I know all the clichés
and talking points, and have a good sense
of just when an ancillary character should
take a shot to the groin or suffer a profound
case of diarrhea on an important date. So,
whaddya' say, television? Let me write a
few scripts? Pick this scab and stop the
bleeding.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unwelcome News

A few years ago, I became aware of a
troubadour from Old Sand Mountain, Alabama,
named Cast King. His debut album, released
at the tender age of 79, was a sensation.

The story was terrific, naturally. Here was
a fellow who had recorded some tracks multiple
decades ago, had a little bit of regional run,
and drifted into rural obscurity. Until Matt
Downer of Locust rediscovered
him to make what amounted to a debut.

The tunes on that album, Saw Mill Man were everything the fan of
old time music could hope for, though the picture inside
teased the listener with Cast playing fiddle -- there
was only guitar on the album.

It was a great moment for all who struggle to
create, against the odds of economy, demography
or geography. The talent was certainly there,
but what are the odds in this industry of a 79
year old man from a place hardly anyone knows about
making a critically acclaimed album? Mojo, The New
York Times, Playboy and may others sang his praises.

In the end, every feel good story has its undoing. Just
a few days ago, Cast was diagnosed with... well, follow
the link from the title of this post. It appears he isn't
long for this world.

If nothing else, he'll remain an inspiration. If a person
feels like quitting, think of his story. Please visit
Locust Music, download "Saved," and make a contribution
to his wife. Good reviews will not make a man rich.

***

On a related note, it seems that Jerry Ricks has been
quite ill. I haven't heard the latest, but it sounds
pretty tough. Mr. Ricks, among other things, had a few
albums on Rooster which were the best acoustic blues
recorded since the 1960's. That Many
Miles of Blues
is out of print is a goddamned
travesty. If you can't get a copy, e-mail me (through
my profile) and I'll send you at least a few cuts
from it. He deserves a lot more recognition than he's
received. I won't put Jerry in the "goners" column just
yet. I won't put Cast there either, though it doesn't look
good.

***

And, of course, there's this.

Jeez.

Friday, November 30, 2007

November has been long

The next-to-the-last day of November was one
filled with vitriol. Not that I would apologize
for anything I did yesterday, which is too
much to go into, other than the Cohen gasket
bursting below, but there has been something
in the air in late November. At least, something
around my air.

Bring on December.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tidbits on Roger Cohen

Roger Cohen of the New York Times doesn't
really write his column, the words are dictated
to him by the prostitutes he employs to
demean them.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times calls the
White House to ask them what he should have
those prostitutes say.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times visits
Friedman's grave, crying.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times would like
you and your uncle and your family to starve.

Roger Cohen is the fascist.

Roger Cohen drinks blood, probably from the
same syphilitic prostitutes writing his
column in the New York Times.

Roger Cohen is a known cannibal.

Cohen wants you dead.


***


It is possible I've taken a liberty or two, but
I felt that I could be allowed to tell half as
many lies in this humble blog as Cohen does about
Chavez in his Times column today.

Cohen, you're a real piece of shit.

Okay, I'm done now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Pleasures of the Damned

I don't know if John Martin has closed the
gaps left by the five hundred or so posthumous
collections of Bukowski's work, replete with
seemingly every line the man scribbled on a
bar napkin, but the world finally has a volume
by which to judge the poetry of Charles Bukowski:
The Pleasures of the Damned, Collected Poems 1951-1993.

I've been screaming from the rooftops about the
necessity of such a collection. The American literary
scene seems to have two distinct... and
inappropriate... reactions to Buk: 1. Contempt;
2. Lionization, leading to imitation.

For the first, I'd offer that most of his harshest
critics have read little of his work. This is a real
issue with Buk, because, as I mentioned above, hardly
a thing he's put on paper hasn't been published. This
has resulted in scores of volumes which include poems
far better than many (maybe any) of his contemporaries
that are surrounded, it would be fair to say buried,
by hundreds of pages of very pedestrian, stories broken
randomly into line-type stuff.

The principle antagonism, I think, from the academic
poetry world is his class status. "Who is this
poor sot, thinking he's a poet?" I wouldn't hesitate
to state plainly that there's a feeling out there
that Bukowski didn't earn his bona fides in the
academy. Why is it that people who argue that Buk's work
is completely without merit are often quick to sing
Carver's praises? Could it be the fact that he got
himself trained?

It doesn't help that Bukowski has outsold, out-influenced,
and will outlive every poet published in The New Yorker
or POETRY during his career. I think this
drives the Professional Poetry types insane, and they
exorcise it by resorting to criticisms which are often
incorrect and always petty.

The second group, to which I've belonged on and off, can
go a bit far. I have to admit that I love Buk for the
same reason so many ProPoets hate him: he represents
my class, he looks at the world in much the same way
that I do and he can hold his liquor. There is no
question that Bukowski was a great reader. He litters
the page with evidence. To repeat myself again, he has
penned some fantastic, unforgettable, risky stuff.
"Dinosauria, We" alone merits him some inclusion in the
modern canon, to whatever extent there is such a thing.
That said, the guy wasn't Jeffers or Pound or Ted Hughes
or Neruda. Given a comfortable life, who knows what he
might have accomplished?

Some would argue that a comfortable life would've rendered
his work irrelevant. That could be. If it wasn't for the
subject matter, what would distinguish him? Would his
prose style work (this is with his short stories, which
are great -- stop internal dialogue, MFA candidates,
you're wrong, the short stories are very good)in the
context of an Evelyn Waugh type upbringing? Doubtful.
My contention is that Buk's mind could've adapted to this,
possibly went the epic route, but we can't know and
it doesn't matter anyway. He's the laureate of the
working class, and had to compose, more or less, in that
language.

Whether one finds himself in the love or hate group,
at least the attempt has (finally) been made to offer
a selection for consideration. How many of us would
be just fine with offering our first drafts for
publication, especially when it means a huge payday,
relatively speaking. The posthumous stuff has been
out of control, but it was, of course, out of Buk's
control. Any further discussion on his merits or
demerits should focus on this collection... unless
one wants to pore over the thousands of pages we have
looking for the gems. I think it is obvious that
his detractors have no interest in this.

In the end, shouldn't the idea of communication
apply to poetry? After all, communicating an idea is
the reason we write. I don't see the benefit in
having the ideas targeted for an élite group that
operates like a quasi-secret society. If one were
to make a numeric rating for the efficacy of a poem
or poet -- a horrible thought, I'll concede, but
it gets the general point across -- with five
qualities worth two points each (just off the
top of the head, we'll say: 1. Aesthetic achievement;
2. Social relevance; 3. Scale of communication, i.e.,
how many people read the work and find value in it;
4. Metric abilities/rhythm/musicality; 5. Influence
on contemporaries and future poets) Buk would
rate all right. We'll put him up against Robert Lowell.

Lowell
1 - 1.2 points
2 - 0.3 points
3 - 1 point
4 - 1.3 points
5 - 2 points

for a total of 5.8 out of a possible ten.

Bukowski

1 - This is the root of the argument, but I'll throw out a
compromise number of 0.7 points
2 - 1.3 points
3 - 2 points
4 - 0.3 points
5 - 2 points

for a total of 6.3 out of a possible ten.

If we were to discuss the two of them using only
one element, say the size of readership on one hand
or artistic achievement on another, the balance would be
heavily skewed in the direction of either Lowell or
Bukowski. I don't think anyone would argue that
Buk was in the same league in terms of craftsmanship...
hell, I doubt anyone would argue he was in the
same sport! But is that all poetry is? How far
does it go before it comes flat out contempt for the
public? I'm not suggesting Buk was a better
writer than Lowell. I am saying that the aesthetic
side of things is subjective, while numbers, whether
it is in terms of readers or volumes sold, speak
for themselves. I am the first to impugn the
tastes of the general public. The fact that anyone,
much less millions, watches, for instance, "Big
Brother" or the like should be great cause for concern.

I doubt that the same people calling in to vote
on "American Idol" are the ones buying Bukowski or
Lowell or Dugan or any poetry whatever. While we
are mired in what amounts to a cultural sewer, there
isn't a cozy distinction between the literate 10% and
the illiterate 90%. How often do you meet a person that
is either brilliant and urbane or a complete imbecile?
There is a whole lot of gray area in public literacy.
The gray area, one could argue, is where literacy
really exists. It is easy to forget that literature
wasn't designed solely for the study of other
creators. Readers should be nonspecialists, at least
the preponderance of them.

Those who curse the very name Henry Charles Bukowski
are usually specialists writing to other specialists,
and they seem to see no problem in that. More often
than not, their work isn't niche because of its
complexity, though they often try to be as complex
as they can... or at least appear complex... it is
niche and specialist because people rightly consider
it solipsistic shit.

In my barbaric number rankings, one could take
Buk down to zeros on the aesthetics and metrics
scale. I wouldn't agree, but we're compromising here.
He'd still get at least a three in the remaining
categories, which would put him around 3 points ahead
of Michael Ryan and Kay Ryan combined. I rest my
case.

Monday, November 12, 2007

50,000

Hit it! That wasn't so bad, but now I have
to write the other 40,000 to finish it.

What a tremendous exercise. Through finally
going this far with a piece of prose, I
think I've found the varieties of
protagonist available to me. That thrills
me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Putting me through my paces.

I've learned a lot in 3 days of Nanowrimo
participation.

Most importantly, I've learned that my
writing pace, when I want to sit down
and compose, is about 5,000 a day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A little politics

After last night's debate (if you didn't get
a chance to see it, today's New York Times
has a very accurate depiction by Nagourney and
another writer) I think I have a horse.

I've been an Obama backer since 2004, but at
this point, it is very clear that John Edwards
is the best guy for the job, whether it is against
Hillary or any other Republican.

Go to the John Edwards campaign site.

He wasn't my ideal candidate, but he's looking
like it more and more. The other nice thing,
he'll win the general.

One more day of rest

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.

Happy Hallowe'en.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The New Yorker. 29 October 2007.

A few years after tossing a fiction issue
aside in disgust, I've decided to begin
subscribing to The New Yorker
again. Whatever its flaws, it is rough to
miss out on Seymour Hersh's articles.

Now, to its flaws.

For those of you who would inveigh against
The New Yorker's much ballyhooed
"auto reject" function, whereby one sends his
submission strictly through e-mail... and often
receives his prompt rejection that same day...
take heart. Apparently there is also an
"auto accept" setting in their system. We all
have an e-mail contacts list, why should such
an eminent publication be less efficient?

Those of you with a copy, please turn to page
forty five.

One must ask of Dan Chiasson, "Are you even
trying?" His poem, "Man and Derailment," might
work as a short story. That supposes a good deal
of dialogue and, if it were twenty pages in
length, exactly the same occurrence of the phrase
"life-sized." As a poem, I cannot imagine how
it could manage to have any less consequence.

This scratches a scab. If a writer is to toss off
some number of words and have it land straight
on the page of a major magazine, must it be made
to appear meticulous? I count a total of ten lines.
In those ten, there are approximately thirty-five
words begging for the gallows. This is, I must admit,
a neat trick. Seldom has an artist managed to
give us so little with so much filler.

The better selection of the two has to be
Charles Wright's. Certainly more gravitas, and
of his four poems, a person could see two
surviving longer than a decade.

Actually, I like them quite a lot in comparison
to what has become the custom in major poetry
magazines. That said, I'd have to echo my interrogative
on the issue of revision.

"[B]ack in the day"?
"stretched like Saran wrap"?

These ruin the first two. The next two ("Consolation
and the Order of the World" and "We Hope That Love Calls
Us, But Sometimes We're Not So Sure") don't suffer
the same fate. I enjoy how precise and concise both
are. I can see a concrete vision in their themes.

Only one suggestion here: don't be shy of the word
"Untitled."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NaNoWriMo

I have a feeling my blog presence will again
diminish in the month of November. This is
the first I've heard of NaNoWriMo.

This sounds pretty cool to me. I'm thinking
of a political satire/mystery novel for mine.

I must plug for buddyhood:

ADD HERE.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Again on Uncle Walt

Then it comes to my attention that things
can be as fine as 1855. Or at least, 1855
could seem equally insane.

"If we don't show
anyone, we're free to write anything." A.G.,1986

Thinking of Whitman

Whitman is the Alpha of American poetry.
In some ways, he should be considered when
one wants to write anything at all in American
English.

The problem is that he had another
America entirely. This contributed to
how the lines and rhythm went, to the
language, the look, the feel. His America,
while not serene or perfect, was a
free place. The freedom sprawled across
the page.

To imagine a nation like that is false now.
Do we forget Uncle Walt as a result?

It seems
that lines
should
look
more like
this,
in order
to convey
the
absolute
loss
of
person
of
independence.

Much more
like a
box than
Whitman's
fields of
good
and bad
men, living.

We really don't have that anymore.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Or maybe the music thing

Your Rapper Name Is...

Big Killa

The Available Bad Options

File Under: Solipsism

Had a bit of a blow up the other night. This
is the real problem with choosing something...
God, I have to say it this way... artistic as
a calling. Especially in the 21st Century.

Knowing that the chances poetry would prove
lucrative enough to buy beer, let alone pay
rent, are at best scant, the idea of again
weighing options comes up. By that, I mean
"What shall I spend my free time on in order
to retain my sanity?"

I've narrowed it down to songwriting and poem
writing. Neither offer much in material or ego
comforts, but if one dedicates himself completely
to one or the other, he gets better, and that's
a victory in itself.

Then it came down to the fact that this isn't so
much about me, but the ideas I want to relate. From
this perspective, songwriting is a better pick.
Even a dismal failure of a songwriter will have
a few hundred people hear his songs. For a poet,
a few thousand is real success. Easier to be in the
"reasonable success" to "outright failure" category
than to climb the ivy tower of the poetry world.

Then again, poetry is a medium composed in granite.
Songs are for now. Sure, good ones will survive, but
if one is responsible, he doesn't live his life by
a song. Great writing, on the other hand, is stuff
to live by throughout time. So, if one is to go
unnoticed, why not attempt the absurd? It is the
only way to achieve the impossible, as we know.

Maybe the written word doesn't lose after all. The
only way to find out if you have a "Double Axe" or
"Leaves of Grass" in you is to attempt it while
suffering poverty, humiliation and rewrites...

File Under: Delusional.

But there's that Unamuno quote once again...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Newbury Nobel

Doris Lessing is the recipient of 2007's
Nobel Prize for Literature. If only I were
a one man selection panel. My ten for
prestige, in no particular order:

1. Ernesto Cardenal
2. Christopher Logue
3. Christopher Hitchens
4. Randy Newman
5. Shane MacGowan
(Hey, why should Dylan get all the run?)
6. Stephen Colbert in 2008


And for the Peace Prize:

1. Noam Chomsky
(really, how could he NOT get this?)
2. Hugo Chavez
3. Dennis Kucinich
4. Evo Morales

Why do I love thee, Hitchens?

Christopher Hitchens has done everything
I can think of to alienate me as a fan
in the last few years. Somehow, I find myself
enjoying him more.

"Everything I can think of," is a little strong,
really. This is the man who penned "The Trial
of Henry Kissinger" as well as "Why Orwell Matters."

He is also the one person who comes to mind
when the word "writer" is bandied about. Hitchens
is the embodiment of all things author: a
sherry swilling, chain smoking,
intractable and arrogant guy who values nothing
above the word. He is, by all accounts, a
great reader, which is step one in a great writer.

Sometimes I think he courts controversy solely for
the sake of courting controversy. This is
the only explanation I have for his opinions vis a vis
the Iraq War and the Islamic world.

One thing is sure, he isn't a slave to contemporary
consensus. What is less fashionable in this
hyperreligious atmosphere than fundamentalist
atheism?

If we are to seek out today's Swift or Pope, Hitchens
is as good a start as I can muster. Wit should
be displayed with savagery. Who does this better?

Wow, Kettle, You are one Black Bastard.

So, Congress is pushing through the "G" word
in reference to the Ottoman Empire's actions
against the Armenians. Good thing the world
is at peace and we can analyze the past of
another country, when it wasn't even the country
it is today.

What's really telling, to me, is that the same
words haven't been used for Belgium, France,
Spain, Portugal, ourselves, etc.

Most of the massacres that happened in the Congo
weren't even in a time of war. Just senseless
racist cruelty. But I forget, Natives and
Africans don't count.

Apparently, neither do Iraqis. Maybe Hungary
will make it right with choice words against
the aforementioned powers in a hundred years or so.

Monday, October 08, 2007

NPR. NYTimes. Everywhere Else.

Anyone else suffering from Roth fatigue?

Protagonist is incontinent and impotent. I'll
let that one just swing out there.

More importantly, Kinky Friedman has a
campaign memoir. The book review quoted a
vintage Friedman borrowing:

"I've got nothing against Baptists. I just
think they don't hold them under water long
enough."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Developments?

Seems a new "verse novel" is calling my name.
Man, I can pick 'em. I'm ballparking the chances
of my getting published in the genre as
about the same the Cubs have of sweeping the
Diamondbacks. So many publishers are looking
for unknown folks peddling book length poems.
I should get a hobby, other than smoking.

In case anyone noticed the blog talk radio
button at the right, sorry. It seems btr is not
Mac ready, and I'm weird about downloads.

Or, I'm a computer idiot. Or, both.

On an unrelated note, nothing is better than
Washington Phillips. Nothing.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Politics again.

Good call for action by Dave Lindorff
here.

I think I'm in. I've been considering what
he suggests (re-registering as an Independent)
for years. It's funny. When I registered in
Kansas, it was in the heat of the 2004 Election.
A lady working a canvass showed up twenty minutes
after Barack Obama's convention speech.

Here, you can't register Green Party, which is
what I have been for years prior, and given my
excitement for Obama, I registered as a Democrat.

Just about the only thing I can agree with the Party
on is that, given the choice, I'd prefer them to
the Republicans. That isn't saying much.

I still like many in the Party, especially Kucinich,
Edwards, Richardson and Obama. I've even made a small
contribution to Obama. I understand there is a huge
difference between John Edwards and Fred Thompson. But
Hillaryand Rudy? Seems like that old dime's worth
to me.

There is no practical reason for me to remain a
registered Democrat. Kansas doesn't have a national
primary. We have a caucus, which doesn't do
me any good because I'm about as alienated from
the local party as I am the national one. Local
primaries don't do much for me either. On the local
front, a lot could be done. That said, I would
have to dedicate a lot of time and effort getting
out the vote in my neighborhood. Do I owe that to
the Democratic Party? I worked on the Richardson
campaign in New Mexico as a registered Green. If the
right person was running, I suppose I would do a
good deal of work for her or him. Nationally, though,
there is no point as long as the electoral system
remains structured as it is now. I live in Kansas.
It is as likely that Kansas will give its votes
to the Democratic nominee as it is for a Republican
to carry the African-American vote. So, no one is
really interested in what we think, anyway. Why
should I throw my largely symbolic support behind
a party that is not only way to the right of me,
but also impotent and chickenshit? What is the point?

So, I'll go to the clerk in the next couple of days and
do it. I have nothing to lose, really. I will vote
for my Democratic congressman (unless a progressive
candidate is permitted to run against him) and whatever
Democrat there is running against Brownback. (Come on,
how hard could it be to beat him?) If Edwards or Obama
is the nominee, of the media-approved candidates,
I can't see voting against either. Hell, I'll give
money and knock on doors. Should this party be
foolish enough to select Hillary, well, I'll probably
write in Nader.

My vote doesn't count in the first place. If I'm asked
to sell my soul, I'd better get damned good at
guitar.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Library Book Sale

Few seasonal traditions are more welcome than the
library book sale. It is a lottery in which one always
wins something.

Today, among other things, I've bulked up a Graham
Greene collection that is starting to get obsessive.
I started buying any Greene title I can find at
book sales or used book stores. As the collection
got larger, I started picking up first editions. Now
I have another in that department. I'm not a big
"collectible" guy... content over collectibility has
always been my rule. But I inadvertently started
with Greene, and why not ride it out?

I also picked up Lattimore's Iliad and Odyssey.
Contemporary poets/scholars are often derisive of
Lattimore's word for word technique. He is
definitely out of fashion, and I can understand
the criticism. Even so, I've always liked Lattimore's
notes much more than any other author. I don't plan
on learning Greek too soon, and Lattimore seems the
next best thing.

The Homer thing is snowballing as well. I've got the
Chapman, of course, and now the Lattimore. Working on the
Logue... wish it wasn't necessary to collect separate
books, I think at least five or six, but a poet needs
to get paid. Did I just say that?

Missing Pope. That will be remedied.

Also, a Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy for one dollar.
Not bad.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

no time for poetry,but exactly whatitis.

I've been thumbing through Juvenal's Sixteen Satires and
Petronius, as well as a little Horace & Pope.

Satire is the only saving grace at the moment.

Art will always nourish the soul, but the body
and mind, for the moment, are occupied by
politics and economics. The confluence is
necessarily satire.

The problem is that no conceivable outcome is
positive. Hard to focus on much else when the
republic is arguably experiencing the throes.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Insurance Care for All.

Great. Here's Hillary's plan:

Sorry for being a trifle inarticulate here, but
all I can say is

What total BULLSHIT.

Basically, it is addressing the health care
crisis by treating it as though it were a highway bill.
That is to say, requiring us to buy insurance.
So, her answer is to hand the reins over to the folks
who make our system Dickensian in the first place.

Nice job. I only want a simple thing: not for profit,
single-payer health care; or, if I can't have health care,
I'd like to not be forced to buy in to this morbid money
system.

Hey, Hillary, I never planned on voting for you, but
I'm sure I won't now. Even if it means (O, God help us)
President Romney.

And if you get in and get this selloff passed, I will
refuse to pay, and I hope many others make the same
decision. I will, just to be easily filed away, send
a photocopy of my middle finger to your people at Kaiser
Permanente.

More than ever, I think all candidates not named
Dennis Kucinich can go fuck themselves.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

White Goddess Compatible

No harmless proclivity tends to irritate
me as much as product evangelism. I find
myself being tugged by that undertow into
the emotional abyss of fellow Macites.

After having it for a week, I am really
starting to see a valid argument for it
being the machine that could contact God.

I have even toyed with the idea of composing
on this keyboard, as opposed to my Olivetti.
Haven't gone that far yet.

The most glorious thing it has provided me with
(so far) is the ability to download and hear
(with no timeouts) Slought's recording of
Bunting reading "Briggflatts."

O, but there was a problem: due to the extended
organ playing on it, the file was too large for
a cd. Why sweat it? I dropped it into Garage Band,
edited it (removing the organ) and fit it on one
disc. All of this in a little over an hour.

Have to think of a way to get that playing on the
page here. I'm sure it is easy.

Also got all Sonnets from another page which is
escaping me at the moment.

The little box is bounding with entertainment,
from Shakespeare to Blind Blake to Lionel
Richie.

If they'd just let me smoke on a damned plane, I
could comfortably make it to India now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

upgrades

just when i start to get back into this blog thing, i
decide to upgrade my computer. happy i did.
thrilled, actually, though it has set some things
back.

2 cigar tips, for those interested:

1. Padilla 1948 lancero (wheeew boy, it is good)
2. San Cristobal from Ashton (I like the torpedo,
but every size i've had is phenomenal.)

far as poetry, well, i've been in a john fahey mood
lately.

i know, that doesn't count.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Talking

A friend of mine recently got me hip
to the blog talk radio scene. After searching
for shows whose topic is literature/poetry,
I found that, shall we say, The High Style
doesn't seem to have a dedicated program.

Well, who better than me? Don't answer that,
please.

Anyway, being known for long blog sabbaticals,
I'm aware that many who read this page in the
past have moved on and likely don't check it
anymore. But I have a request of those of you
that still visit from time to time:

If you'd like to periodically tune in to my
call in show (or even better, call in) what
time (CST or EST) would be a good one?

I haven't set it up completely, and have to
pick a time slot. Originally, I was thinking
Thursday at 10 pm CST, but that happens to
correspond with The Daily Show and, more
importantly, The Colbert Report. Hell, I
won't be listening to me in lieu of these
shows.

Still, 11 pm CST seems a bit on the late
side. Other engagements keep me until 9 pm
CST most week nights, and blogger types seldom
wake up early in the morning. Worse yet,
some have to work in the daytime!

Any suggestions, via comment or email, would
be greatly appreciated.

At the moment, I'm leaning towards Thursdays
at 11 pm CST/Midnight Eastern.

Thanks in advance.

They're pretty acurate, I guess

<<>>

Of course, they've also found that I'm a hyena, Hawai'i, Kent State and Pakistan. O, well.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Sunday Times

Though the book review looks very "ehh" the
magazine makes up for it.

Hell, it even makes up for Deb Solomon, for
a change.

Good piece on Jose Saramago.

Though, Bloom continues to confuse. I still can't
decide whether I'm fur or agin'.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Old News

Recently, Norman Mailer said that the novelist
would soon be comparable to those who write verse
drama in iambic pentameter.

So, what does that make a poet?

Or, for that matter, a verse dramatist?

Anyone doing a good poetry bit on blogtalkradio?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sirens in the Ether(net), Or Tax Time Blues

Couldn't resist such a title for the late Mr. Vonnegut.

Lately my thoughts have gone to location. It isn't a
strange idea, here in Kansas. Especially around April,
when both my federal and state government compel
me to pay my dues.

I've lived in a lot of places and in varied income brackets.
It seems that the sure way to end up paying an inordinate
amount this time of year is an easy recipe: Add
one part the lowest survivable income and mix in two
cups of undesirable locale. I shouldn't be too unfair, being
both a native Kansan and a resident of the one town
in said state which boasts a few cosmopolitan benefits. That
being said, the idea that a place like Kansas would have
a very high state tax in relation to neighboring Missouri
(our roads are much better, though) or Texas or a number
of states which any U.S. resident would easily prefer to
reside causes a person to lose sleep.

The purpose of this transmission is not to throw a screed
out into the maelstrom about those 1040 forms. I will
close the topic with my unceasing wonder at all of the
returns received by wealthy folks I know. This leads
me to some conclusions vis a vis Eastern philosophy:

1. Karma must not be separated from caste;
2. It wasn't too hard for Siddhartha, considering he
always had his royalty to fall back on; &/or
3. Devising a logical system of ethics based on
the realities in a predatory market system is less
sage than it seems.

Getting back to location.

It has always been the same in the arts as in real estate.
Talent and perseverance help, but where you pay rent
has a lot to do with your potential to succeed.

As a sometime writer, arguably lacking in the three
aforementioned departments, and musician, I've
frequently looked to the new "hot" location. They
differ based on music or poetry, but there is often
a confluence.

In a recent mood of defeat, a friend and I discussed
just where the new land of milk and honey might
be. We came to the consensus that it could be wherever
you are. Much has been said of the decentralizing
aspect of the Internet. With a few keystrokes and clicks,
billions of people can be introduced to your writing,
music, paintings, etc. In the world of journalism,
sites like Counter Punch and The Huffington Post have
successfully done an end-run around the "filter" as
our president likes to call it.

This seemingly democratizing quality gives a person
hope, even in Kansas. There's only one catch: the big
web sites, to paraphrase Ginsberg, are a mad mirror
image of the big papers, publishers, and entertainment
concerns. Huffington has been high profile for years
and has a megaphone through old venues like television
and radio. Cockburn was, after all, in the employ of
The Wall Street Journal and is still read weekly in
The Nation. I know a few people in my neck of the woods
that spend a great deal of time and energy on their
own indymedia projects. Their efforts strike me as
quixotic.

On my end, I've put up somewhere in the area of 30
songs on various sites. I haven't really attempted to
publicize them (not that I would know how) but the
net result is pretty much that those I am in contact
with are usually the ones who see the sites. The great
benefit is, essentially, that I don't have the overhead
cost of printing CD's to sell at a bar gig. The potential
audience remains close to the same.

Let's say one is enterprising enough to build an online
audience of some size. It can be done, even if you
aren't a respected author or waffling heiress. The
problem remains that without the support of the vast
network (of four companies or so) and resources
of the arts & entertainment industry you aren't likely
to make any money. In a perfect world, this could
result in paying no taxes on no income. There is the
problem of rent, though.

In the net publishing world, there are some positive
signs. Again, there ain't no money in that particular
poetry. An even bigger issue is that, without print,
a writer's words fail to receive the requisite heft. Anybody
can have a website.

So this magical medium becomes just another tool
to catch the attention of the firms that have a hand
in every till, whether it is epic poetry, dance music,
public opinion or public utilities. A means rather than an
end. I don't have an answer here, and welcome
suggestions or contrary opinions to this conclusion, as
the conclusion ends us with a dire prognosis for the
Kulchur.

Wherever you go, it's where you're at.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Absence

I feel pretty bad about neglecting auld Karga
during the St. Patrick's Day Week... but busy,
busy.

Picked up Legacies by Heberto Padilla. Need
more.

Other than that, the mind has focused more on
The Memphis Jug Band than, as Gord put it,
"those Himalayas of the mind."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Click Here for a Site You Shouldn't Miss

Linked above is the EMBARGOPOETS blog
site. An odd journey to it.

They put up an Heberto Padilla poem. I was
searching for one of his online while a book is
en route. An odd coincidence, or, rather,
surprising new knowledge about him.

I've been smoking a lot of Padilla cigars lately,
and while looking up some of the lines (all of
which are exceptional) I clicked on the bio.
Usually, cigar makers have the same story,
or some variance thereof: My family owned
ten fincas in Cuba, until Castro came along.
We moved to Miami and funded Somosa's
thugs... now we bring this free market
approved joy to you at an outlandish upcharge.
It puts me in a spot, being a leftist chain
smoker.

Well, Padilla cigars is partly (or fully, not sure)
owned by the son(s) of Cuban Poet (he gets
a capital "P") Heberto Padilla. The name isn't
a coincidence.

One thing I LOVE about Heberto Padilla is that
he was exiled both by Batista and Castro. He
actually came back post-revolution to support
Fidel, but wrote some "counterrevolutionary"
letters that ended him up in prison, house arrest,
and eventually a second forced exile.

I love and support all writers who can boast this
kind of record with all authorities. Too bad there
aren't any Orwell Cigarettes. No matter. March
is beginning with an obsession with the Padillas:
the writing of the father; the cigars of the sons;
the nice wood on the boxes.

Maybe it is a good month for a spotlight on
EMBARGOPOETS in general. Read this
at the Guardian. It'll take me a month to digest it.

Slainte Mhor.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Umm....

More movie madness.

Someone help me out here. I noticed that a film
called Journey to the End of the Night is coming
out on DVD 27 February. I was very excited, having
not heard of such a film until recently. I saw the
cast and was perplexed. Then I read an imdb review.

This looks to have nothing to do with Celine.

Why would someone tease me in this way?
The humanity.

Me & You, Your Mama &... er... Shane MacGowan too?

If there was one moment from the Oscars I'll
have tattooed into my brain, it didn't come from
the show itself.

Yes, Karl Shapiro, there is an Advertclause.

After a few hours of sedate speeches, the flavor
this year being off of 8 1/2 X 11 sheets of
paper, and before Martin Scorcese's long overdue
Oscar making us all warm inside, there was...
a Cadillac commercial.

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but while you
were emptying your bladder between blather,
some enterprising man or woman in an ad agency
slipped in The Pogues (greatest band ever,
by the way) to a suburban family/sunshine in
the breakfast nook let's take the dog and kid
through a drive in the redwoods fucking car
commercial.

My wife noted my ire. "Shane needs gin!"

I don't mind at all that the voice of a generation
is in a car commercial. The expression was likely
one of suspense. As in, "what fucking couplet from
'Sunny Side of the Street' are they going to manage
to broadcast in a nukuler family car advert?" The
selection was... and I am not bullshitting here:

So I saw that train and I hopped right on it
with a heart full of hate & a lust for vomit
now I'm walking on the sunny side of the street.

I just want to know if the person at the agency was
being knowingly ironic (other gems from the chune include
"All I can remember now is little kids without no
shoes" and I'll paraphrase, not having the Hell's Ditch
lyric sheet at my disposal, "I swore to stake my life
like I would a whore.") especially on Al Gore's night,
or if Madison Avenue is just that clueless when it comes
to context.

Either the Andy Kaufman moment in American
advertising or reason #4,697 our Kulchur is swirling
around the shitter lid just in time for 2012.

If anyone has inside information, do tell.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Which side to choose?

Got this link from Silliman.

Could take the time to mention that The New
Yorker doesn't seem to value either brevity
or clarity from the article. (O, how you go on!)
But, obtuse though it may be, there's some important
information to consider.

When Barr published his essay in POETRY last
year, I was thrilled. My take on it was quite different
from that of this New Yorker piece. I would be happy
about this information... but it is tough to enjoy
knowing something new when the Greeks are the
Academic Establishment and the Trojans are
wealthy business types who seek to improve poetry
by screaming "Sell... sell!!!"

Could it be that Wiman and Barr aren't as they're
portrayed in the piece? When I read Barr's essay, or one
of Wiman's, I don't come away with the
sensation that either wants solely to commodify
the art. I could be wrong.

I must say that the passage where the Editorial
meeting takes place seems like nonsense to me. If
the folks at POETRY are so focused on bringing
us something new and exciting, what are they
waiting for? Methinks there was a bit of staging
to that sequence.

This whole debate leaves me (and I would venture to
guess a lot of other writers) at best confused. When
clarity comes into play, it leaves me (and...) despondent.
As a working-class individual, the investment banker
types and religious conservatives are my natural enemies.
As a working-class writer, the academic establishment
has no use for me whatever. It is a difficult choice, which
side to root for. Unless I look at those statements of
place above and determine that it doesn't matter either
way. The enemy of one's enemy isn't always a friend.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Go on, tell Mama.

Though I am a fairly political person, I make every
attempt to keep Karga on topic. This creates those
absences from time to time... when I don't have
something I want to share about the subject of
literature, I don't sully the page too much. With that,
allow me to jump in with both feet.

If you are thinking of voting for Hillary in
2008, I recommend you get your bullshit
detector checked out.

I've been dreaming of Barack Obama's candidacy since
before the 2004 Convention Speech. As we approach
2008, it seems more and more like there's a real chance
with him. As Faux News and the Faux Lites out there
make every attempt to assassinate his character and
make hay out of that "Muslimy" name, it indicates to me
that The Powers That Be are getting edgy about
the '08 Election. Incidentally, who thinks it is a bad idea
for The United States of America to have a president
who can relate to The Global South?

60 Minutes featured him and his wife last night. I could
empathize with the smoking thing, having caught one hell
of a cold. This caused me to involuntarily quit for... what
is it now... 2 days. I hope he's sneaking a fag every now
and then. This would be an inopportune time to play with
a person's addictive centers. By day three, I'll probably
be hallucinating. Stay strong, Barack, and please God don't
throw down any screams.

Today's Morning Edition on NPR ran a piece on Hillary and
Obama, in New Hampshire and Iowa respectively. They
pointed out, as did Frank Rich yesterday, that Obama was
against the Iraq War from the get-go. This "inexperienced"
state legislator from Illinois somehow knew something the
Beltway Brahmins hadn't thought of: that the war would
be a disaster, and that the Bush Administration isn't to be
trusted. Let that stand on its own.

Then, there's Hillary. It is amusing to see her backtrack and
attempt the performance of rhetorical somersaults in regard
to her downright Hawkish stance up until, when was it, o, yes,
last week. Mrs. Clinton is about as cynical an operator as can
be found in Washington, which makes it tough to see how she
can think that people are simple enough to fall for the "if I knew
then what I know now... we were misled" gambit. First off, I knew
then what you know now. A lot of people did. Actually, everyone
did, though some who tried to play both sides (read: most of
The Democratic Party) are trying to make us think they were
unsophisticated enough to buy the truckload of bullshit about
weapons, freedom, &c. Hopefully this horseshit (running out of
things to call what Hillary, Rahm and the whole Corporate
Takeover masquerading as an opposition spout) will hurt her
numbers. The American people aren't the brightest bulbs in
the cabinet by a long stretch, but it is so obvious even the
McDonald's fattened masses can see through this charade.

I got some disturbing news from a friend in a neighboring
county. "I'm voting for Hillary," he said, "hell, most everybody
I know is... to be part of something historic."

Because, if you hadn't noticed, she's a woman.

I understand this impulse. I have been going back and forth
between the two attractive candidates in the field, Mr. Obama
and Mr. Edwards, and asking myself whether I'd be in the
Edwards camp were it not for my desire to see an
AfriKansan Executive. Basing a vote on gender, in this instance,
is wasting a vote.

Lemme say it again:

Remember 2004? The Party Establishment squandered
a clear opportunity, and if you let them the song
will remain the same in 2008. Fool me once, shame on
you. Fool me twice, kick the power chords Mr. Townshend.

This is it. Get ready.

Fellow Democrats, please don't make me switch so I can
at least vote for Hagel.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

tinstaafl, for me, at least.

I was never the belle of economics courses. Being
an externality, it never appealed to me. I will have
to thank the instructor of my first class in the subject
for focusing on the familiar TINSTAAFL acronym.
(At the time, I was focusing on just how catchy
those numbers guys could be with their acronyms.)

I didn't learn many lessons formally, but I should've
kept that piece of information at the front of my
mind. (In case I am being opaque, which apparently
I have a tendency to be, the acronym stands for
There is no such thing as a free lunch.)

I did not heed the early instruction, and submitted
to Ron Offen's publication. A great idea, I think.
The mission statement goes something like this:
Free Lunch Arts Alliance seeks to publish poets,
big and small, and is quite keen on new talent.
We will give a free sub to any writer of merit,
whether or not we publish your work.
It may take some time, as we give an
actual critique of all submissions.
Minnows will swim with minotaurs, and we
shall see that it is good.

Or something along those lines.

"What've I got to lose?" I says to myself.
"If nothing else, I'll get a few issues of a
magazine that from my investigations
(visiting the website) I hold in some regard."

As the bold print indicates, I was very taken by
the idea of actually having some notes on just
why I'd be rejected. The lack of such notation
can drive a person mad. It leaves one with nothing
but questions... namely, "what am I doing wrong?"

Well, I get the rejection back in the mail. I shall
quote the passages, on post-it notes affixed to
my returned pages. (Don't worry, it won't take long.)

First, from the intern:

"I am intrigued by both these poems, but I don't
understand either of them. Is there more (especially
w/"Renewal".)[?] Also[,] "Chesapeake" is so short
and written in the specialized language of boating
that I don't understand what it is supposed to be
about."

At least they're intriguing. I have no beef with this.
Actually, it was a wonderful feeling. Whenever a
work is rejected, I always think immediately that
the reader sees some unforgivable incompetence.
This boils the blood before sending me into a
depressive hibernation, where I will not even look
towards the typewriter, favoring a banjo for
company. These notes, however, are quite clear.
For that I am thankful.

I submitted two, and "Chesapeake" is indeed
short. Before submitting, I had it whittled down to
28 words from its original 35 or so. It does involve
specific nautical terminology, and a bit of sailing
history, and as such is very specific and not
necessarily a hit with many audiences. The second
poem, to me, is pretty straightforward. Not as
short, but less than a page. (This makes me wonder
why someone would ask if there was more to it.
Have you ever submitted half a poem?)

No matter, the notes provided me with the reasons
for rejection. They are reasons I am happy with.
Any poem I submit has undergone the Papa
treatment, whittled down to words of necessity.
This may not square with some (read: most) but
it is my aesthetic choice, so we can cordially disagree.
The second point, about being cryptic or opaque,
is also well-taken. I have failed in the sense that
two well-read folks didn't understand what in the
hell I was talking about, but neither said that
the lines and/or rhythm were lacking.
I return to Logan's Crane review, and not to
flatter myself with unwarranted comparison,
but as a general point:
"Crane was mystified, as most obscure poets are,
when readers found his poems difficult-- after
all, they were perfectly clear to him."

So, let's get this little psychoanalytic exercise
over with as quickly as possible.

On to Offen's comments.

On "Renewal": "I don't get it either."

I had half a mind to write him a rejection of
that rejection. It is, after all, so short.

On "Chesapeake": "Wogs?! Pretty nasty
term-- also Green Wogs?"

Aha, I am guilty of a racist abstraction! That is
the worst kind indeed.

Well, I don't blame the outraged question mark/
exclamation mark couple on the post-it. Again,
it is a term that has evolved over time for sailors,
but for readers of history it could be construed as
this.

This is the maritime usage, at least as it is practiced
to this day. Being honest, the word is loaded and
I know it and that is why I am keen on it. Both
sides of the wog coin speak to a kind of alienation
I was driving at.

(Sorry to link to Wiki, a site that has given Basil
Bunting the wrong birthday! But on this, it is
pretty much accurate. I didn't write anyone about
it because the birthday they list for him is my own,
so I'm pretending for awhile.)

All in all, I am happy with the rejection. At least I
know the why, which is all I ever want.

I didn't stay very happy very long. There is a form
with returned submissions which has three options.
They go something like this:

Sorry, we've decided not to use the enclosed.

___ But based on the quality of your work, we feel
you are entitled to a free sub.

___ You previously had a free sub, but you moved
and you didn't tell us, so send us some money and we'll
re-free your sub.

___ We think your work has no merit, you get no
free sub, go fuck yourself.

Guess which one had the "X"?

Don't send another until 4-15-07.

Don't worry. Right back atcha.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Links

When I changed this page after signing into
New! Blogger (my Blogger has commentary
by Tom Wolfe) I somehow lost my links.

Didn't lose them, really, but they are waiting
patiently in a Word document. I've been
thinking of resurrecting them, much like I've
been contemplating the crow Kawing on a more
regular basis.

If any past linkee is on the page, wouldn't want
him/her to think that I've dropped it for
any particular reason save laziness.

In any event, the title is a link for a new (to me)
page. The guy likes Crane and Carver and
dislikes Billy Logan. I think we'd get along.

***

To be fair, I seem to recall that Logan did
something somewhere that caused me to speak
in very laudatory tones about him. It was
probably aired out on this page somewhere...
somewhere... I'll have to look into it, but the
NYTBR piece may be a RED CARD situation.

***

The whole episode engendered an affection
for Franz Wright. Well, that and his great
"fuck you" to POETRY after receiving that
all-too-familiar standard rejection "letter."
That, and the fact the guy seems to be ready
to go at the drop of a hat. I love that spirit.

Wondering... if I write to Franz Wright, what
are the Vegas odds that I get any sort of
response? Double down by speculating whether
he'd tell me he'd knock me out if he got the
chance. And if so, where and when? Hell, even
if a big P winner gets the better of you, it might
move a few pieces. Who knows?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

An Early Contender for Enmity of the Year. (Ask Franz Wright)

"Not being a seagoing breed, poets rarely die by water--"

This gem appears in the first paragraph of the New York
Times Book Review hit on Hart Crane. Your mechanic,
ladies & gentlemen, Mr. William Logan.

That the Book Review gave two full pages (counting the
large picture of Crane) to a review of the new Complete
Poems and Selected Letters (an immense 849 pp!) is
cause for celebration. To paraphrase Saint Ron, of all
people to do the review, why Logan?

While reading the piece, I had to stop and light around
four cigarettes, fuming at the arrogant upper middle
class attitude that was dripping so heavily off the page
the ink ran. I have no idea how many (or how few) folks
read this page... especially since going on a long blogging
sabbatical, you see, folks who don't inhabit asylums
for obsequious idlers can take vacations from things
as well... and I am aware that this exercise is mostly
therapeutic... but as well as an exercise I must exorcise
the ulcer Logan would no doubt create if someone
somewhere didn't shout out his window regarding this
trifling piece of prose.

Let's begin with the seagoing part. Poets not being a
seagoing breed? Really? Aside from the small detail
that the very beginning of Anglo-Saxon poetry can be
traced back to "The Seafarer," I seem to recall that
a number of poets were called by the sea. No doubt
Logan views the sealtyþa gelac as those high streams
of consciousness emanating from behind desks from
Iowa City to Gainesville. From the outset, it is clear that
there is bound to be a good deal of Crane that is
inaccessible to Logan's bourgeois verse aesthetic.

"Crane dreamed of being a poet much more often
than he sat at his desk and wrote poems; and he was
forever complaining in letters that he had no time to
write, though he found plenty of time to drink."

This comes a few paragraphs after a useful bit of
biography: "Most of Crane's short life was spent
scuffling for money."

That the two would not connect clearly for Logan is
no surprise. Lemme 'splain something to you, Mr.
Logan. When a person is short on money, or has to
cobble together a living doing odd jobs in order to
subsidize his writing (while, of course, begging
people for cash) it takes a toll on desk time. Further,
a drinker will drink, often to serenade the muse...
more often to turn the bleeding voices off. I'll put it
in terms a chap like Logan can understand clearly:
for some poets, a night out drinking is like teaching
a class. It is something they do while being them, and
it does take away from writing time, but it is how they
get by.
No doubt many of the great minds history will record
from our contemporary scene (there could even be
an American poet in this group) could've created so
much more if it weren't for that damned survey. We all
have crosses to take up.

As for doing more dreaming than writing? I'd dare say
that today's poets could stand to do a hell of a lot more
dreaming before setting fingers to laptops. Give me
ten spectacular failures whose life work is one slim
volume premised on dreams as lofty as the Romantics
to every single pragmatic craftsman churning out
forgettable, competent stabs at academic verisimilitude.

Actually, the reader could be saved an arduous journey
into Logan's weird world with a simple two sentence
review.

"Hart Crane had plenty of time to drink, but complained of
no time to write. His work is untrained, and as such, of little
value." Throw in "his idea of a revolutionary aesthetic
repels me and I will take it out in a review of the long dead
beauty" and you've pretty much got it.

Actually, I'm being unfair. To be honest, I have roughly the
same take on "The Bridge" as Logan does, though I certainly
think it is a work undeserving of the poisoned jabs thrown at
it in this review. Again, brevity being the soul of wit, Logan
could have left it at one of his own sentences when talking
about "The Bridge" which was pretty on-the-money:
"We have no long poems this close to being great that are
greater failures." Attention, New York Times: stop
paying contributors to the book review by volume!
Had he left it there, that bile taste Logan is known for
inducing in readers and poets alike would have been at
usual dosage.

But Logan cannot resist his impulses. He is like Alexander
Pope... except not in the same league wit-wise (or even
the same sport or species) and, of course, hasn't created
an eternal work like "The Dunciad" and... mm... Pope was
always entertaining. But in the field of bile, I think the
bitter little Pointdexter matches the whole Pope/Swift
scene.

The final blow which Logan could not resist? I'll quote
one last time. "[W]e are lucky he left nothing of his
projected epic on the Aztecs." A bit presumptuous,
wouldn't you say? It is extreme even in a piece which
relies much more on character assassination (though
for rogues such as myself, a great drinker is certainly
more praiseworthy than a fastidious craftsman) than
actual consideration of the poetry. Auden is rolling
over. Bunting is too stern to roll, but might when he
feels the need to break the silence of the congregation.

Lucky he left nothing of his projected epic on the Aztecs?
Well, it makes sense, when you think about it. I mean,
just like poets being known for lack of adventure and
clinging to the safety of the shore, there has never been
an example of an ambitious poet endeavoring to
revolutionize the medium finally getting where he was
looking to go after a few false starts. Never.

Besides, Crane didn't have an MF(A). He couldn't
have crafted the thing if he'd tried.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Un

This thought of the 21st Century being an exception
to history... dangerous and foolish and everything
we've come to expect from Western man.

As it relates to literature, it seems that the postmods
and their heirs are more content with wordgames
and performance art than with writing. I can
understand the impulse, as the exponents of
conventional verse and prose tend to be dreadful
bores... but does it seem odd to anyone else that
those who would "evolve" the art choose a
method closer to Nash during the schizophrenic years
than, say, Whitman or Jones as an inspirational
influence? (Or a number of others... I'd just prefer
for poets they be poets or at least writers of
some sort.)

Hell, look what Logue is doing with Homer. Homer,
for Chrissake. Is it hopelessly anachronistic to
ask the vanguard to focus at least as much on
writing something worth reading as they do on
parlor tricks?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Year of The Underdog

A dash of fire. A bit of positive yang. The willingness
to make broad generalizations about life and art as a
result of a sporting competition.

As of 18 February, 2007 will become year of the pig.
We're still in the dog year, and it is time that 2007
is declared Year of the Underdog no matter what means
of divination one prefers.

I wasn't quite sure what to make of this new year until
last night. There was a good deal of optimism from half
of the house guests at the New Year's Eve boozer. The other
half seemed... not despondent, but less optimistic.
Even into 1 January, my personal inventory left
me with a weighted feeling. I have always been one
to stay outside of the system, relying on a vague notion
that a person could accomplish a good deal through
strength of personality, character, or work. (I'll get around
to one of them eventually.) As the New Year's inventory
was being compiled, though, I started to get the feeling
that the system would crush me after all. Indeed, it
had crushed me and any thoughts I had to the contrary
were pure delusion.

While watching the Rose Bowl at a cigar lounge with a few
friends, I'd made clear my singular sports wish for the
year. Namely, that Boise State would dispatch Oklahoma
with extreme prejudice. They scoffed. "I'll go one further,"
I told one of them, "I will personally stake my year on
the result of the Boise State-Oklahoma game."

I've never been to Boise. I don't crochet. Nevertheless,
their rise in collegiate football means a lot to me on a
symbolic level. It illustrates the hope many of us have.
Here is a group of people who weren't given much of a
chance by anyone other than their peers (in the WAC)
and were presented by the Establishment with a token
opportunity. "Once they're vanquished," the Establishment
thought, "we can get on with things as planned."

Boise had those three strengths. They proved that not
only did they deserve a chance to compete against the
legacy team with a Warbucks daddy and a better resume...
they proved that they were better.

I think this is a lesson for all of us. All of us, that is, who
aren't blessed with a large trust fund, who didn't
attend the big name schools, who have no one outside
of their peer group to rely on for support.

In the interest of this particular blog site, I'll extend it
to literature. The literature scene, especially poetry,
is about as rigged a game as the BCS. Take heart,
friends. If you're not plugged into the system, you
probably won't get a nod for The Big Prize-- the
title game as it were.

If you prove you are better than those that do, they
can only ignore you for so long. Add a fourth
strength to the aforementioned list: patience. Today's
muse inspiration is Ian Johnson.

Now, where can I get one of those hats?

OKLAHOMA: 42
BOISE STATE: 43