Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~T.S. Eliot
I want an Eskimo Pie.
I want it cold
and hard as marble.
I want to peel the chocolate layer off
in two halves.
First eat the vanilla inside.
Hold the chocolate clothing;
admire its sheen.
Afterwards consume it-
until we are one
and the rush of dopamine flashes
inside my arcade head
sending me round and round
in a ball of worked up heat
wanting more and more.
Thursday night I was fortunate enough to be in the audience at a Kansas City reading by Aimee Neshukumatathil. Aimee read from her book Miracle Fruit, her latest book titled At the Drive-In Volcano and from a newer, yet to be published manuscript.
Aimee's writer voice is not the particularly powerful voice that I usually am drawn to. Nor did she quite seem to meet the template for an academic poet. She is perhaps more in the style of Naomi Nye… a gentle voice, a voice of knowledge, a voice that is zealous and vibrant, a layered mingling of her pedigree and contemporary American culture. Among my favorites from the reading, Corpse Flower, Swear Words, and Fishbone.
She’s a very relaxed reader who commands the audience attention with a balance of humor and casual storytelling in addition to her poetry. Her tone of voice when reading is a pleasant and reassuring one.
I enjoyed reading through Miracle Fruit last night and today. Her poetry is tight and neat and relies upon a wide range of knowledge of the plant and animal kingdom as well as ethnic and cultural insight.
As news of this has trickled out to the mainstream media slowly, I'm sure some of have perhaps heard that Nicholas Hughes died on the 16th of this month at his own hands. Nicholas was of course the second of two children born to Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
He was in 46 and made his home in Fairbanks Alaska when he was a prominent fish biologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Not surprisingly he inherited his fathers fondness for fishing and nature.
His passing might have only made the local papers, but the the word of his suicide made the news around the U.S. and across the Atlantic in Europe as well. He was after all the son of Sylvia and Ted. There is so much tragedy associated with the family already and this will only rekindle the debates about his mothers death.
Nicholas was less in the limelight than his sister Frieda who like her mother wrote poetry and and painted as a serious artist herself. In a statement by Frieda released as she departed for Fairbanks she noted that her brother had been battling depression for some time.
Already I've seen stories that have popped up talking about a "suicide gene." There is statistically a high percentage of suicides among individuals who have lost a family member to suicide, but so far not real scientific evidence that links the act directly to genetics. It is true that the conditions, both environmental and by some predisposition to depression may increase the tendency but that linkage is more indirect.
I want to make note of a video my daughter Meghan passed along to me and some of you may well have seen it, but for those who haven't it's an uplifting story, the kind that toughs at the heart.
I've not really had any experience with collaborative poetry in the context of shared writing. I always consider poetry to generally be a collaborative between the poet and the reader, but that's another whole matter.
I suppose it requires a special temperament for two artists, both poets, to work together to produce something that is a joint creation. C.D. Wright in a symposium I attended earlier this month, spoke of collaborating with photographers on work. That seems to me to be a particularly beneficial arrangement given the tenets under which both art forms develop.
Mutating the Signature (great name by the way) is a relatively new blog of two poets who have been actually collaborating for a while now. The poets Dana Guthrie Martin and Nathan Moore have certainly put an interesting light upon such work.
Nathan for example has explained a part of the benefit of this shared creative process this way,'"Collaborative poetry offers a respite from the struggles of solitary work. My poor, overworked ego is given a break as process and product are shared, voices are melded. It’s a fantastic feeling to be partner to the creation of a voice that’s greater than your own.'" I think any of us who've written for a while are certainly aware just how solitary the work can become.
Dana seems to derive an energy from seeing the twists and turns that can develop when two are working to meld their voices. She is quoted on their site as explaining it like this... '"The surprise of the poems we’ve written. Oh, the unforeseen turns the writing takes. Going in and not knowing where you’ll come out, or when or how. The way we each respond to the words and phrases the other person contributes. How a piece that in one moment seems like it’s headed nowhere fast can, in a word or two, find its way somewhere startling, strange and gorgeous.'"
As I've stated, I've not really worked except in the simplest terms, like at a workshop of people joining to create a poem, and that was more for fun and hardly a serious collaborative venture. I'm curious about the experiences of others, be they positive or negative. Any takers is this discussion? What's it like and perhaps you can share a bit about any rules or secrets of making it work that you'd like to share?
I made a Quick Trip run this morning for a diet coke. I noticed all over the walk and even on top of the car all these little fragments that fall off the tree when the new growth begins each spring. On the lawn too I could see new blades of grass rising up from the ground and giving a shout out in praise of spring.
For those who live in areas that do not experience the changes in season I believe you miss something monumental. If there were not a demarcation between winter and spring, between fall and winter, even the changes that are perhaps more subtle between spring and summer I feel my year would seem endlessly depressing.
Spring is such a period of rejuvenation to me. A rebirth, a second chance, a new beginning. I apologize to those who do not appreciate the sports metaphor but it's like opening day in baseball. Everything seems fresh and it makes no difference where your team finished last, everything is stars over.
March 12 - [noted part of a line from a Boston Legal episode that I have a feeling will find its way into a poem at some later date] "its always orange for breakfast and apple for lunch"
March 12 - comfort is is an approximation/which has not arrived
March 13 - you have weathered the streets/know the names of its inhabitants/and carry a Godlike name
March 13 - The word is/side effects/are rare/and musical/most of the time /hardly irritable
March 16 - It's uncomfortably warm in the house tonight. For the longest time I was here alone tonight and the house felt closed in....
March 18 - From across the hall comes an airborne thought/I shall pocket it in hopes of making it my own
March 19- Two tea bags/bold is not exactly/a distinguishing landmark
On another note, I have a blog to recommend. Brian Brodeur's How a Poem Happens is an engrossing look into the creative process various poets subscribed to in the creation of specific poems. The most recent being Sandra Beasley author of Theories of Falling. Other poets featured Dorianne Laux, Stephen Dunn, Daisy Fried, and Dan Albergotti to name a few. If you haven't been there, check it out!
I'm on a roll, sent out two batches of poems this past week to venues that I've not submitted to before. Fingers crossed!
I'm excitedly awaiting the KC visit of Aimee who will read from her book At the Drive-In Volcano. She's part of a ethnic poetry series that earlier brought Victoria Chang to KC. These are two poets that I've followed via the Internet (good Lord, sounds like I'm a stalker) for a while now so getting to see them both read in person is a treat.
Park University and the Missouri Arts Council have made this series possible so they deserve some credit for promoting these poets here locally.
Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition. ~ Eli Khamaroy
Someone asked me if this was a good thing.... liberating words from rigid definition. What do you think? Any words out there you think need to be liberated?
Since I've been back, I've received a rejection letter. I've completed a journal and started yet another. I'm filling them up at a rate of about 1 every three months. I've received my copy of Mortal from Ivy, which I have enjoyed and will have more to say about in a later blog post. And this morning I've been sending out more work.
I'm trying to decide if I want to the the Annual Poetry Month broad side I've done for the past two years. I've got a couple poems in mind and I've had positive response from people the past two years, but these are different economic conditions and I'm awaiting a price figure from a different printer. If I'm going to do it, I really need to decide in the next 48 hours.
The picture above is to top of a beaded vase my wife did with a bouquet of clown noses in it. It was pretty cute.Below is another view if the lower part of the vase.
It's not the sharpest picture (from camera phone with poor lighting) but you get the idea. Just thinking of the concept was creatively genius much less the execution of the idea itself. I'm not sure how she can do these things with no pattern to guide her.
Anyway, I'll tie this into my post today by saying that this year there will be no clowning around. I submissions last year were down from the previous year. I'm writing more, I just need to work harder on rewriting material and keep sending the stuff out that is publishable but has come back. Some of it just needs to find the right home.
This is a great resource for creating a file management system for your working drafts. Not only is it an excellent organizational tool, but a way to simplify working on rewrites and keeping track of drafts.
Joannie Stangeland takes us through the process in this short video. All you need is Microsoft OneNote.
I had toyed with it a little before viewing this video. Now I have an even better appreciation for what it can do. Click here to view video.
It's been a quiet evening and we stayed in, ate fried ravioli and played baseball on Playstation. Three games. I took the first two and Meghan beat me the last one. She played a really good first game and I came back in the bottom of the ninth to beat her by a run. The second came was a blowout and the third she won by a single run. I'm a tough competitor so while I won two of the three, she is getting better because two of those games were really competitive.
Things I have marveled at during this visit:
We'll take in another Giants game tomorrow at Scottsdale. Sadly it will be the last time I see the team in person for a while.
Also planning to go to the Melting Pot after the game for dinner.
I've been able to get some writing in this week, and this morning did some sketching.
Some Journal bits from this week:
He’s a maniacal man of means
with no notion for nurturing.
Neither can he be summed up so easily
as to say that he fits into any fast track
prefabrication that is so often assigned
to many of his peers.
He cheers for one person
only, it is not clear who that person is.
There are factions that spend their spare time
in hasty debate over whom.
One theory is a brother
no one can recall ever meeting.
Some point to a woman of mystery
who has been woven in and out of his life
at various points.
There are good arguments made for each
in their own time. I however hold on
to my own theory—
He is his own best cheerleader.
The evening we were back on campus for the ASU / Holy Cross baseball game.
ASU struck first with a run in the third and broke it open in the 5th with 4 more runs to make it 5-0.
ASU pitcher Mike Leach pitched 7 innings giving up only one hit and no runs. Brule Klye came in to relieve him in the 8th and gave up two hits but no runs and the ASU offense rolled on to a 15-0 win.
Besides the pitching, outstanding performances were turned in at 2B by Zack MacPhee who shined with his glove and Jordan Swagerty who homered in the 8th.
Today, Meghan and I catch the San Francisco Giants against the Angels in Tempe. Go Giants!
After an uneventful flight last night (the best kind) I arrived in Phoenix and was met by my daughter Meghan, with dog in tow. Said dog has grown into a Moose since I last saw him.
We stopped at Jack-In-The-Box on the way in and had tacos. A treat since I love their tacos and only am able to get them when out here or St. Louis or in the Bay area.
This morning I was on ASU campus in the library working for a while. we came home for lunch and it was like I hit a brick wall. The only things I can attribute it to are the fact that I worked my ass off the past week to 10 days in the office, and just crashed from that this morning, and or, lack of diet coke. Probably both.
On campus there were two things amusing to me, (remember it takes little to amuse me) the home made chalk sign on the sidewalk with arrow point the way to the Vagina Monologues and the other was where my daughter took to this place encircled by some administrative offices were there was this "secret garden". Back tracing our steps to the entrance, someone had painted on the sidewalk, Secret Garden but then had painted arrows pointing away from it. Hum, maybe the directions for the Vagina Monologues were wrong also.
Anyway, I scrapped plans to go back to the library to work this afternoon and crashed on the oh so comfortable bed. I'm up and feeling better now, but I still need that diet coke!
I'm told our flight is maybe a third empty for seating options should be many.
I saw on the screen here that it's like 83 in Phoenix this afternoon, It's in the 40's here.
Received a text message from Meghan asking of Jack-In-The- Box was ok for dinner. I love their monster tacos and we haven't had any location in the KC area for man years now. They have one or two in St Louis, so I always make a pit stop there as well as when I'm in San Francisco where they are prolific. At least last time I was there.
We'll likely be boarding soon so I'm out of here for now...
The last minute collection of the various necessitates for my trip are underway and then I'm off. Excited about seeing my two daughters, taking in the Giants Spring Training, watching the ASU Sun Devils play baseball, etc.
And writing. I do expect to get some writing done. I don't mean just blogging, though this blog will not be silent while I'm gone. Perhaps it will be even more active then it has been the past couple of weeks. I actually been busy and not posting as much as I would normally do.
It's getting close to noon and I need to go through my final list of TTD.