Sunday, September 30, 2007

Merwin Versus Zapruder: Cage Match!

While our September Poetry Book Club discussion on Frank Bidart's Star Dust is going strong, we have a glitch in selecting next month's book. There is a tie, despite the high number of votes.

The showdown is between W.S. Merwin's Migration and Matthew Zapruder's The Pajamaist. So, I am putting up a 3 day poll to settle the dispute. Vote for your favorite by Tuesday, October 2! May the better book win!

Weekly Word Count, September 23-September 29

Nada. Zip. Zero. But, I have a good excuse.

I remain at 22,976 for the year.

Web Communities

Just a note -- I noticed that my page was loading really slow, and lo and behold, it was due to all of the different webrings and communities badges on my main page. So I have created a new post for each of these communities, backdated them all to January 1, 2006, and created a link on my sidebar to see all of these different organizations. I don't mean to downplay the positive effect these different communities have played in leading readers to my site. I just want my page to load normally. If you would like to see any of the places I have joined, click on the sidebar link or click on the web communities label at the bottom of this post. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Did Emily Dickinson or Edna St. Vincent Millay ever have days (weeks) where they didn't feel poetic? Where they just were bone tired and didn't have the energy to see things with the lyric eye? I suppose, this could be why one was a recluse and the other was a drug addict, but I have a feeling it's not.

This week is the week where I have two jobs. I still have one week of teaching left at the old job, and I've begun working at the new job. So I work for two hours in the morning at the new job, leave at 11:30, commute for half an hour, teach for two hours, commute for another half an hour, then work for three hours at the new job. Gulp.

So all this driving, sitting at computers, last minute grading, completing of human resources paper work, and meeting new coworkers, has left me drooling on the couch, watching all the new must see shows for the fall. (Chuck and Reaper weren't half bad, even if I was in a drooling state. Or perhaps because I was in a drooling state.)

I want to write poems. I have the desire, somewhere deep in my body. I had inspiration -- both Writers Island and the Traveling Poetry Show are giving me prompts galore. But, mostly, I just want to relax and drool.

So, I think tonight, I'm going to try this exercise out of Julia Cameron's The Right to Write. (I've been reading it for a week. It's kind of her "Just Do It" mantra book, so far.) I'm paraphrasing her directions: In order to get in touch with the writerly side, find a quiet place to sit, and number a list from 1 to 100. Then, fill the list with things that you love. Then, post the list at your writing desk.

I think I'll try it before falling into bed. If it doesn't work, I should snap out of this by Friday, my last day at the old job.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Poetry Book Club Discussion: Frank Bidart's Star Dust

Here is our discussion post for the September Poetry Book Club Selection -- Frank Bidart's Star Dust.

I'll start by posting the same questions I always do, plus a couple of new ones.

Discussion Questions

Overall, did you like the book? What about it did you like?

Were there specific poems that spoke to you? Which ones? Why?

Was there anything that confused you about the overall book? What was it?

Were there any individual poems that confused you?

The stated theme of the book is the human need for creation and work. Which poems best carried out that theme? Was the theme clear to you?

How would you describe the author's style? How did he use language to convey images, ideas, or voice?

How would you describe the structure of the book? Did you see any sense of movement or progression from one poem to the next?

Would you choose to read this author again? Why or why not?

I think that's a good start. I'm going to post my own answers later today, after work, but feel free to comment or leave any extra information about your experience reading the book in the comment section.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

5-10 Question Meme

I just read this memeover on Stoney Moss. Both Whirling Dervish and ...deb had some really interesting answers to the following questions, which of course, encouraged me to try it out. They originally found the meme on Poefrika, Rethabile's site. If you try it out on your own blog, be sure to leave Rethabile a comment.

1. Who's your hero? Why (Not necessarily a writer -- do not include deities or family)?

Since I just wroteabout Ani DiFranco yesterday, so I'm not choosing her, although she definitely is one of my heroes.

Other than her, I would have to say that my advisor from graduate school is one of my heroes. Deborah Keenan is a wonderful example of how a woman can be a wife, mother, poet, and teacher in an honorable and honoring way. She spends so many hours working on other people's writing, through her role as professor and theater advisor, yet still has time to raise her kids, write her poetry, and have a semblance of a life. Although I'm not sure if she would agree that it is as easy as she makes it look.

2. Who's your favourite dead poet? Which of their poem do you like best?

So many dead poets to choose from! I would have to say that Sylvia Plath has to be one of my favorite poets of all time. Not because of her dramatic life, although that is interesting, but because she was a technical genius. While I love many of her poems, I would have to say that Tulips is one of my favorites. She extends this beautiful and grotesque image of the tulips as mouths which is just haunting.

3. What well-known poet/writer have you met? What was the occasion?

I have been pretty lucky in my young adult life to meet several poets, mostly through my undergraduate school's excellent English Department. (Hooray for small hippie liberal art colleges with excellent visiting writer programs.) Two instances really stick out in my life.

First, as a junior, Denise Levertov was a visiting writer for a semester, and I took a class with her. This was maybe 6-8 months before she passed away from cancer. Not to speak ill of the dead, but she was both brilliant and terrifying.

She asked to read our poems and then met with us all individually to give us a critique. I turned in several poems, including a couple of attempts at sestinas. (I was so proud that I was able to use all 6 words at the end of each line in each stanza -- it took me days.) When I arrived to my meeting, she was mostly kind to me, until we got to the sestinas. She said, "Well, these are almost sestinas," and handed them back to me dismissively. I went home and looked up the form, only to realize that I didn't use the super special order for each of the end words; I just stuck them in when they worked. Despite her slight callousness, she taught me so much about metrics and reading poetry, that I still read back on her essays to this day.

Secondly, when I was a senior, Quincy Troupe came to a reading at our school and I was selected, along with a friend, to have dinner with him and one other student and the entire English faculty. I read his book, Avalanche, as a way to prepare. I was so knocked away by his book that I became incredibly intimidated as the time came for the dinner. During the dinner, I was dumbstruck, as was my friend. The third students monopolized the conversation, and really networked quite well, in retrospect. I only said one word to him, the entire night. Minneapolis. This was after he asked me where I was from, as we were leaving the restaurant. He commented that it was a lovely city, and that he had read at the Loft several times. That was the entire conversation.

4. How do you recognise a bad poem? What are its characteristics?

I hate to sound relativist, but I don't know if there are bad poems. Certainly, I have read and written some clunkers, filled with cliche, stilted, awkward language and mixed metaphors. However, I think that poetic expression is so fleeting these days that any attempt at elevating our language to the poetic is a risk and a challenge, and should be honored. Therefore, I will skirt the question to say that there are a) poems that don't appeal to me personally but may appeal to others, b) poems that have a burning ember of quality, covered in layers and layers of bad or sloppy language, or c) poems that have good language but not a great idea.

Recognizing the first one is easy. I can identify the qualities that make it a good poem to others (fresh language, interesting metrical tools) but I might not care for the subject or the style. I take it as a learning experience and move on, both as a writer and reader.

Recognizing the second kind is more difficult. I can see the idea, even for a fleeting second, but can be distracted from the sloppiness or poor language or convoluted imagery. When it is my own, I feel like I need to dust off the layers of thought and language, to reveal what lies beneath. Hopefully, if I can see the initial impulse for the poem, I can reconnect with the meaning and rebuild.

The third kind is my least favorite as a writer, because I can spend the most amount of time on them. I call this polishing a turd. I will take that poem, that seems to have some sort of freshness or creativity to it, and continuously rework it, in the hopes that it becomes good. It never does, because frankly, not all of my initial impulses are genius. Sometimes, I have crappy ideas. :)

5. Why are some poems entitled untitled? What's your take on that?

Personally, I like to title my poems, as a tool for the reader to add another layer of meaning. However, I hate the act of titling my poems, because it's hard. I often over-title and show my hand way too early. This is an awful habit to break.

One of my favorite all time poets, Emily Dickinson, never titled any of her poems. She either didn't need to or didn't want to, and frankly her meaning is clear without them. A title would just way them down.

From a marketing point of view, a title on a poem is a tool. It's so we don't have to say, "this is my one about..." at readings and in cover letters to journals.

Weekly Word Count, September 16-September 22

Another good writing week -- dare I call it a roll?

759 words, for my review for the October issue of the Uptown Neighborhood News.

22,976 for the year.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

SuperFantastic Weekend

I am in the middle of the world's greatest weekend, right now.

On Thursday night, my staff and I went to a dive bar near our home, drank big fruity drinks and reminisced about the good times. It was a nice relaxing time and I got to have a Wondrous (spelled Wonderous on the menu) Punch.

However, last night was the highlight. A friend of mine and I went to an Ani DiFranco concert at the Historic State Theater, downtown.

First of all, the theater is beautiful. It was built in the '20's, and they restored it in the early '90's, after years of disuse. All of the seats are swathed in velvet, and the walls have plaster reliefs. There were guilded statues protruding from the balcony railings, too. It's as if William Randolph Hearst, in a subtle mood, decided to design a theater in the Midwest. Oh, and we had seats in the 20th row on the main floor, spitting distance from the stage. :)

Then, Ani had an excellent opening act, a one woman folk show. The singer's name was Melissa Ferrick and this was my first introduction to her. She was an intense and funny performer, and I am totally going to buy some of her music now.

Once Ani came on, she was fantastic! I have such respect for her as a musician and writer. For those of you unfamiliar with her, she has been recording and touring independently since the early '90's. She writes poetic feminist folk/punk/jazz sort of fusion. It's hard to explain, so you should just trust me and buy a CD. She played a lot of my favorite songs, some new songs, and a cover of Woody Guthrie's "Do Re Mi" that I love. And during her 2 song encore, she brought Melissa Ferrick out to sing back up.

She is an excellent example of a working artist, in every sense of the word. About three songs in, as she was fiddling with some equipment, she mutters, "Same thing every night." Then she says to the audience, with a laugh, "You know, I've been to every fucking Ani DiFranco concert there has ever been? But I keep comin' back." That helped me to shift my perspective on her and what it means to be an artist, just a bit. She's totally a hero of mine. I always assumed that her life is super-inspiration all the time, since she's able to write and record her own work, then publicize it herself. But to her, it's her job. And sometimes the job is awesome, and sometimes its mundane and mediocre. A working artist is a worker, primarily, not some superhero. So, I guess this means I should get to work.

But not this weekend -- I still have a Twins game this afternoon and a friend's birthday party at two different clubs this evening.

Recovery on Sunday, for sure.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Last Dance

Today, I gave my swan song presentation at work today. For banned books week, I gave a half-hour presentation on the power dynamics of book censorship. We discussed the cycle of banning ideas we are afraid of, in order to avoid discussing the issues. I also suggested the 5 books that "The Man" doesn't want you to read. They were:

1) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
2) Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
3) Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
4) Howl by Allen Ginsberg
5) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

At the end of the presentation, I played this video, which is a collage of post-WWII images set to a portion of "Howl."

When the presentation was over, one of my students came to me and said that he felt bad that we were discriminating against the books. This made me miss teaching, just a little bit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Presents? Oh Jack, You Know I Love Presents!

Those lines (or something similar to them) were uttered by the best soap opera diva *ever*, Erica Kane. Ever since then, when I think about gifts or presents, that's the first thing that comes to my head. Not very poetic.

Writers Island's prompt for the week was "The Gift." Since I clearly couldn't write about Erica and Jack, I was stumped. That is, until I took a walk this weekend to the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden and had a shift in focus. This poem is what resulted.


Unable to escape my own stink
(last night's slick, oily residue
still clinging to my skin)

I decide to go outside.

Strap on my shoes, grab
my keys, and push my body
down the long hill, beside
my home. I burn

past the empty bar, the smoky
sour taint of pork ribs and cheap rum
flooding the sidewalk; past

the old man wheeling
a garbage can filled with crushed
soda cans, as he curses
no one in particular. I sprint

beneath the overpass, checking for lurking
vagrants and flocks of gray pigeons;
bus exhaust fumes float past me. Cross

the footbridge, a checkerboard
of morning sun and shadows, and hop
down the steep steps, into the park.

There, in the shadow of the fountain,
a flock of Canada geese
root for food. There must be
twenty or thirty at least, nipping

and nesting in the dew damp
grass. I walk quietly, stunned
at their silence, their elegant
movements. A pantomime. Sidestep

their green turds, their white tufts
of feathers, walk towards
the lavender and purple flowers
blooming on the trellis. I touch
their soft petals, their fragile
stamens, and hear

only my steady breath. I still
smell my own sour stink, know
I can't escape it. Still,
right now, every cell in my body
sings gratitude.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

October's Almost Here!

It's that time already to vote for our next Poetry Book Club book, even though we are still in the middle of September's selection. As a side note, I just began reading our September book, Frank Bidart's Star Dust, this weekend and it is amazing. Remember to have it read by September 24th!

On to our October poll. As I mentioned last month, I am retaining all of the books that received at least one vote. So the only books that are getting cut this time are the September selection and Kevin Young's For the Confederate Dead. I am adding in their places a book that was recommended by Jonas from What Turtle Blood Tastes Like and a book that I found on Amazon that looked cool. All in all, a very scientific process.

Here are the links to this month's selections:
Fever Almanac by Kristy Bowen
Migration by W.S. Merwin
Frail Craft by Jessica Fisher
The Pajamaist by Matthew Zapruder -- Thanks Jonas!
Modern Life by Matthea Harvey

Voting will close two weeks from today. Vote early and often!

Weekly Word Count, September 9-September 15

Last week, in my weekly word count post, I complained about the writing drought I've had for the past month. Well, it's raining now! Thanks to sites like Writers Island and the new Traveling Poetry Show (nee Poetry Thursday), I've been writing up a storm!

This week, I wrote two poems, two revisions, and a haiku. So all told, that's 1700 words this week alone! That brings me up to 22,217 for the year.

I should be careful, because I don't want to jinx it, but when it rains...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Two Fall Haiku (or Requiem for Summer)

Fall has already arrived in Minnesota with a loud cold *snap*. I woke this morning to frost on the neighbor's rooftops and a brisk chill in our building's hallways. With the season's early change, I've been writing (and reciting) these two haiku beneath my breath for the past two days.

This morning, I decided to take a quick walk and take some pictures to accompany them. I wore flip flops and my toes got so cold I had to run back inside. I miss summer already.

Becoming Dormant

Flowers don't sour
at summer's end, they reveal
their brittle brown husks.

* * *


Haze evaporates
to crystalline blue skies. Clear
light breaks through thick clouds.

* * *
To see more pictures taken on this morning's inspiration walk, go to my flickr site!

The Paperless Doctrine of 2152

My husband, a budding science fiction writer and author of The Soulless Machine Review blog, recently got published in a journal called rock, paper, scissors. As part of this publication experience, he got to read his story for the CD version of the journal. (Click here to see a really cute picture that I took of him that night.) And, he will be doing a live reading with some other authors published in the journal at the end of the month.

If you are in the Twin Cities area and intersted in hearing some great literature read aloud, here is the information:




Thursday, September 13, 2007

So I'm New to This iTunes Thing...

...having just purchased an iPod a month or so ago. (I used a different company's mp3 player until it died.) I typed "poetry" into the podcast directory, and found the coolest video! Of course, I can't figure out how to post it on this blog, so instead I'll just describe it and strongly recommend it. You Internet-savvy folks will surely be able to find it.

The podcast is called "National Champion Performance Poets" and the episode is called "Bao Phi, Doug Kearney, and William Harris 2002 NPS Finals Showcase." The three artists, two poet/speakers and one beat boxer, performed a poem with the refrain "We meet at the crossroads of convenience stores, in a galaxy of bullet proof glass, chanting a battle hymn of broken English." It is a long poem exploring the stereotypes of African Americans and Asian Americans and it is powerful!

I am proud to note that two of the performers are from Minneapolis. Bao Phi is a well-known spoken word poet who is based in Minneapolis. The beat boxer, William Harris, is also from Minneapolis.

Rehab, Week 2: What Am I So Afraid Of, Anyway?

This week's Traveling Poetry Show trigger, as it was called last week, is about confronting my writing fears. I knew exactly what I needed to do, as soon as I read the post. I need to revise some poetry.

I've written about revision here before, but I've been doing a paltry amount of revising lately. Why? Because I contemplate revising with a combination of fear and dread. Even though I love editing other people's work and encourage them (and my students, for instance) to revise, revise, revise, I approach revising with a combination of fear and dread. I fear it because, basically, there are so many what-ifs involved. What if I make the poem worse? What if I can't make it better? What if I can't see the true nature (and therefore the truth) in this poem?

But, I did it, because I was forced to revise this week, or else find something else to be afraid of, I revised two poems that I wrote for Poetry Thursday long ago. Now, I revised based on my writing group's (she's really just one other writer) suggestions, so they aren't dramatic re-visions. They are more tinkering. But dang it, I tried. Click on their titles to see the original versions of the poems. I welcome any feedback on the new versions.

Spare Some Change

On the day I was baptized,
I chose my new name, not the one
my parents had given me, the one
I’ve outgrown, like two year old jeans.

My new friend, God, cornered me,
dipped his dirty fingers into our bottle
of Popov Vodka, and sprinkled
fiery drops on my sunburned forehead.
I was already living for two months
on this empty road, alone.

Already traded my pink retainer
for 5 dented cans of beans. Already defended
our drafty warehouse squat
from rats the size of my two fists. Dove head first
into the McDonald's dumpster, rescued
three garbage bags of stale hamburger buns.
Drank rainwater from crumpled coffee cups,
thrown in the gutter. Memorized
my own way of asking for change:

Spare some nickels for a girl
who can't go home?

Already thought of home
on those dank drizzling nights when I shook,
even in an alcoholic slumber. Healed
from my first street beating, black eyes
and cracked rib, for picking
someone else's off ramp. Already remembered
Dad's hands on the covers, on the blue nightgown

the thick stench of whisky and coke
on his hot breath. Already forgot
that girl I once was,
braces, B-average, and brand new
shoes every other month. Already tried
calling Mom twice,
hung up before I lost the change.

the day I was baptized, renamed
on a barely lit alley at midnight,
behind the restaurant dumpster,
in front of all of my friends,

I'd already chosen this empty stomach life
because some things are better
than living at home.

* * * *

Self Portrait, 1991

Red Lipstick

Each morning, I painted my lips dark red
with Wet N Wild 99 cent lipstick, number 516.
I dreamed myself invincible,
as I blotted, pressed and powdered
until I a brown-red stain

seeped into my skin. I turned
my music up loud, listened
to Rage Against the Machine,
and thought I could,
listened to The Cure
and waited for it. In school,

I was mostly invisible, silent,
next to all the other girls with blue-red
war paint smeared across their lips.
I was just another one, cloaked
in black and skinny enough
to squeeze through the crack

in the high school fence. We broke
into our parents’ houses, with keys
hidden in secret pouches
in our Pic N Save purses, punched
in the alarm codes,
before it went off.

My house had Bud Light and nosy neighbors,
Elena’s had a liquor cabinet
with Sharpie lines drawn on the bottle’s sides.
We cracked open Cokes
and poured in whiskey and rum,
vodka and peach schnapps,
filled the bottles with water, right below
the line. We invited the boys
to watch them slam beers
and mosh to Metallica.

One guy said he went to juvie
for assault with a deadly weapon, pulled
back his bangs, bared his forehead,
where he bashed the guy’s skull
open with his own. I laughed,
but left him alone.

One afternoon, Elena’s dad came home,
found us curled on the couch,
drunk and watching MTV.
Her father screamed in Russian,
his face red and swollen. We snuck
out the back door.

The next morning, she answered the door,
slowly, wincing as she moved. Her nightgown
slipped to show her shoulder
covered in red welts. Her father
stood behind her, hand above her head,
pushing the door until it clicked shut
and I walked back to school, alone.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I Fantasize About

Here is my inaugural post for the new online community, Writers Island. This site was started by Rob Kistner as a way to fill the void for our dearly departed Poetry Thursday.

The first prompt was a doozy: My Imaginary Life. I had so many half-formed thoughts running through my head when contemplating this one. I think it is because I am always engaged, simultaneously, with the life I lead and the life I want to lead. I know if I just work hard enough and do enough, I will have that elusive perfect life, but it always seems just outside of my reach. When writing my poem for this prompt, I had to really confront the reasoning behind this type of thinking. Why do I focus so much on the future when I have so much going for me in the present?

If this first prompt is indicative of the type of work we'll get to do on the Island, I'm excited for the project!

To Do List

38 Items

Light more candles in my home, feel
their warm glow spread across my face. Watch

much less television, spend less time
seeing that dull light flicker behind my eyes.

Clean the bathroom regularly; scrub
the bathtub until I can see myself reflected

in white porcelain. Worry less often and waste
less energy asking what if, why, and when.

Write more regularly. Stain my fingers
black and blue with ball point ink, smear my words

on clean white pages and find myself
within them. Meditate daily, before bed and

unwrinkle my mind, until it is fresh
as a blank white page. Lie

to myself less. Cradle myself in forgiving
arms and let go of everything I should have,

would have, could have, today. Rip
pictures out of magazines. Assemble slick

jagged collages of meaning. Find the one
word to paste in the middle, the one that explains it all.

Build a fort, using all the books I read
this year; feel safe in my constructed

storybook cottage. Wait for the bricks
to loosen and tumble on top of me. Pick up

the heaviest, open it at its center, and read
what’s written on the yellowed page. Do

whatever it tells me. Stop constructing
perfect endings before their time.

Wait until the necessary one emerges.
Record everything I eat, read write. Write

down every time I sleep, exercise, and breathe.
Do more, do less, think more, and think less

Spend time inside, then outside, then inside
again. Be louder. Be more silent.

Write this list daily in my journal, tear
out the page – swallow it. Discover

the perfect combination of word and intention, action
and inaction, that unlocks this heavy, deadlocked door.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Poorly Named Weekly Word Count, July 23-September 9

I last posted my weekly word count on July 22. I have my excuses, of course. Two road trips, one book review, and a lot of procrastinating. But I want to get back on track. So, here is my distillation of the past 5 weeks:

1723 words. (Two poems and one book review.)

This brings my yearly total to 20517.

Here's to being back on track.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Po Bronson Made Me Do It

Way back in May, I began reading Po Bronson's book, What Should I Do With My Life?. I've really enjoyed it, but found that it was bathtub reading, in between all the other books I was reading. I finally finished it today, in the bathtub, of course.

While reading this book on and off all summer, I knew I needed to do something different with my life. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy my job, but it's draining. It's a lot of grading, a lot of conflict management, and a lot of extra hours. Hours I should be spending on my writing. So, I slowly began to look around, to see if there was anything better out there. Luckily, I think I found it.

I am happy to report that at the beginning of this week, I was able to put in my notice at my current job, to accept another position at another school. Instead of teaching and administrating, as I do at my current job, I will be coordinating. In fact, I will be coordinating a new office at a local college (15 minute bus ride from home, rather than a 30 minute commute) that will serve 5 master's degree programs. I get to work an alternative schedule, get be closer to home, and get to be hourly, instead of salaried.

The best part -- I can take classes for free at this school. Their art department has website design, book arts, and photography.

I start my new position at the end of the month and I can't wait!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Poetry Thursday Rehab, Week One

I'm glad to see that Delia at Left-Handed Trees is posting Poetry Thursday this week. She wrote a lovely mini-essay on poetry and reading TS Eliot, as well as the optional idea for next week: confront your fear. The post next week will appear on Carolee's site, Polka Dot Witch.

I think this a way for us PT junkies to rehab gracefully. So, here is my offering for this week, which I actually wrote last weekend.

At the Howard Johnson's on Cornhusker Highway

Labor Day Weekend

Children run wild
in colorful bathing suits, clutching
2 liters of generic Mountain Dew
while slip-sliding around the indoor pool.

Parents line the edge of the fenced-in
swimming hole, sipping $2 Buds
and watered down margaritas.
They say no and spank bottoms lightly
when asked for pizza and quarters
for the video games. Inside

teenage girls smear black
mascara rivulets running down their cheeks,
and playfully splash ambivalent
teenage boys. Adolescent acquaintances
(introduced in the hallway last night)
tentatively hold hands
under the jacuzzi bubbles, and roll
their eyes at their too awkward, too

enthusiastic younger siblings. They holler
at the kids to go play
in the room, watch cable, go anywhere else
but here. Everyone is practicing
for real life, assuming it starts
just after tomorrow's long drive home.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Greatest Use of the Internet... Ever!

A very close friend of mine from college recently graduated from the Writing & Poetics program at Naropa in Boulder, CO. A friend of hers just told me about an amazing project that he's working on at Naropa, the Naropa Audio Archive. This archive is a collection of over 2000 hours of activities (readings, conferences, interviews, etc.) at the university. As non-Naropa people, we can access about a quarter of that through the Internet Archive site.

I haven't had time to go over it in a really detailed fashion, but it is awesome! If you like the Beat poets, as I do, this is the site to browse. You can listen to classes that Allen Ginsberg taught before he passed away! Or an Amiri Baraka lecture on revolutionary poetics! Or a reading with Amiri Baraka, Diane DiPrima and Robert Duncan!

I think I feel faint...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Jessica Fox-Wilson, Poet, Educator, Writer...and Book Reviewer?

I've been trying to figure out ways to practice my writing more and get a jump start on my writing career. About a month and a half ago, I remembered that a friend of mine is the editor of a neighborhood monthly newspaper and he was looking for a book reviewer. I thought to myself, I can do that. So, I emailed him and lo and behold, I now have a regular book review column in a monthly newspaper.

My first column appeared in this month's Uptown Neighborhood News. (My column is on page 11 of this pdf file.) In this column, I reviewed a pretty amazing book called Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, by professor and academic Robert Jensen. I picked this book because the author will be reading at Magers & Quinn, a local bookstore in our neighborhood. I'm lucky that I happened upon this book, though, because I really liked it.

Since this is a monthly column, I'll be posting the pdfs each month, once they come out.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Read Books & Save Trees

I just learned of an interesting company called Eco-Libris. Eco-Libris works like a carbon offsetting company. But rather than neutralizing your carbon footprint through planting trees, Eco-Libris neutralizes your paper usage from your book buying habit. See, publishing companies often use virgin paper for books, which causes deforestation. (Also, paper production companies can be incredibly huge polluters, another environmental concern.) At Eco-Libris' site, you can pay $10 to plant ten trees, to offset the paper usage of 10 new books. The company works with a couple of non-profit planting partners to get the environmental action done. They are like middlemen in the process, connecting readers to eco-organizations.

When I look around my house, I see hundreds of books -- and therefore hundreds of trees that have been chopped down to print those books. Honestly, I've never thought of the environmental impact of my book buying addiction. I like books and I like the ideas that they transmit. This site opened my eyes to another aspect of my environmental imapct on the world, and it isn't pretty. Interestingly enough, even though they are a for-profit company, Eco-Libris' blog promotes other ways to limit your paper usage while still enjoying books.