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

Saturday, October 20, 2007


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:


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

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
more like
in order
to convey

Much more
like a
box than
fields of
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

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

Saturday, October 06, 2007


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.