Friday, December 29, 2006

Five Little Known Facts About Me

I had a half-beagle whom I barely remember get run over by a UPS truck.

I dressed as Indiana Jones for my preschool Halloween party. Later that day I was fiddling with the gear stick in my mother's car while she was in the Post Office, and the car rolled down a slight incline into a lightpole. The lightpole was ruined so the City Of West Bend built a fountain there. A bystander claimed I was waving as the car careened into the lightpole. But I was scared shitless, so probably not.

I participated in an 'Underground Newspaper' in High School called The Night Crawler. The 'Proper Newspaper' was called 'The Night Crier'. My friend and I managed to alienate, piss off, slightly amuse or cause to remain indifferent all of Slinger High School. I did a horoscope where I tried to name every 'Social Clique' in the school. My idea was to tell everyone off equally.

I once masturbated in the back of a bus in Ireland. (This will be the only Item here that involves me masturbating.)

I have been threatened with a lawsuit four times in my life.

I tag:

Gina, Shafer, Sandra, DUCKPANTS BBPD, Haystack

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One retaliation against Bush that either hasn't been tried hard ehoungh or has just failed completely is the willful conflation of his name with female genitalia. 'Lick Bush' etc. We need to shift the warlike energy associated with politician's names over to sexual energy. I resent that 'bush' may have come to connote 'president' more so than it does 'vagina' or for that matter 'shrubbery'. That slogan 'Stay Out the Bushes' doesn't work for me though because it suggests bushes are a bad thing. What did they ever do to anyone?
I think I'm losing all confidence in music based in rock precepts to be interesting. New stuff that is. Or maybe I just don't know where to look. Or maybe I just don't care as much. Before I started writing poetry, music was my main thing. I was a complete spectator though. My therapist asked me if I would be happy as a spectator in my life. Mostly I am happy as a spectator in my life. I think inaction can be a very radical act in fact. Channeling my Oblique Strategies.

Friday, December 22, 2006

When I was in grade school, kids used to say 'What team did you vote for?' instead of 'What team did you root for?' What team one rooted for was very important. I hated the Chicago Bulls. I literally cried when the Denver Broncos lost 55-10 to the 49ers. I was (being a rural 13 years old) shocked and confused when Magic Johnson retired. The day after Magic Johnson retired, alot of kids were saying he had 'AIDS because he's a fag'. I remember feeling personally hurt by that. Maybe one reason I stopped following sports is because I was tired of having my heart broken! That or puberty.
In films there are sequences, usually about the length of a pop song called montages. My main thing is poetry, so naturally I'm wondering if there is an example of poetry montage. For some reason what pops into my head is Deerhead Nation, by K. Silem Mohammad. But those poems, if considered montage, add a new element to it, which is to say many of them are scary montage. Are there examples of scary montage in films? And I mean montage in the modern definition, which is from the 80s. A montage that seems to transcend all manner of aesthetic speculation, just through its sheer ridiculousness, is in Rocky IV, the training montage. I'd like to write a poem that has a training montage, say Zack or Dustin or James Liddy as the coach. They would be driving a golf cart along side me yelling encouragements while I'm on my daily 10 mile run by the sea shore.

There's also a part in Rocky IV where one can very easily mishear Rocky's manager saying 'Take a crap!' between rounds.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Poets should say fuckface more. But Anselm's down. So is Bruce Bruce.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is NPR considered a genre of music?
Uncle Ez talked about the news that stays news, but what about the dudes that stay dudes?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The other week, on a Saturday night, I was driving with Brock to some person's house, where my friend Saul used to live. We were listening to Jesus Lizard and I was thrashing around alot in the car. One of my lenses was loose and it popped out which I didn't realize until the next day. I looked on the passenger side but didn't think to look on the driver side, which is where my lense was.
I used to write music reviews for my high school newspaper. What I really wanted to do (I think) was start a band that sounded like the Pixies or Helium or Sonic Youth or some other indie rock band of the time. But my friend Justin was really into Meatloaf, and my friend Dave was really into Sting... I found the first review I published in a copy of the Nite Crier that was in the boys' locker room garbage. It was of Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral. I compared Trent Reznor to Edgar Allen Poe, because I felt like I needed to say something like that, basicly. Again, I took it very seriously. I wrote a review of Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, where I conceded that their music did sometimes sound like a cat's head stuck in a vacuum cleaner but went on to praise it nevertheless. The most contronversial thing I wrote for the school newspaper was probably a thing called Mary Tyler Moore. It has a boy killing his father then, covered in his father's blood, running and throwing his hat in the air ala the Mary Tyler Moore opening credits. It was mentioned on the Mark Belling show. Another piece I had in the same issue was a description of a bug crawling out of a dead woman's vagina. It was called Mitosis and it ended with the line, "You are a rapist. Deal with it." I didn't suggest of course how the reader might deal with it, just that they deal with it. Oh and I wrote both pieces under the name Jello Biafra. I didn't really know who he was. I didn't really who I was. I was a poser. What else could I be?

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Why does taste matter? Ok. If you like something and I like it too, that gives us something to talk about right? The reason I get along with some of my better friends has a little bit to do with our shared frame of reference. But then, we disagree alot too, and thats fine. I suppose if we disagreed on everything, that would give us alot less to talk about. And you might say, 'Dude, you like that? That sucks!' and I might say 'Dude you like that? That sucks!'

But really, what does liking something do? What are you doing when you like something? Nothing. Stating a preference maybe. But to stand in front of a person and say, 'I like this.' What does it really do unless you talk about why you like it. Is it because it doesn't suck, or doesn't blow, or because it influenced something that came after. I had a friend in High School, who was my best friend, who listened to music that I could not fathom listening to. And then I kind of started to like it, because I picked up on some of the energy he got from it. I also, however, thought during that time of my life that the music I was listening to was really important and that only idiots would listen to 'mainstream music'. But you get beyond your teens and realize that alot of the things that seemed really important to you at the time, don't amount to much. Its really not important whether the other person on the bus likes REM.

That said, I think there's a certain mindset one can get in, where they start to claim music as theirs. They use it not only to define themselves but to define themselves against other people. They start arguements over it, call people names over it. All over, basicly, CDs, 7" singles, who 'owns a copy' of what. I guess it's fun. Fetishization. Which means you use music or literature or film as a way to compensate for something else. I do it. I use art to stand in for whole lot of things that are lacking in my life. But then I also use it to make myself feel more free. And I think its incredibly interesting that other people like other kinds music, books etc.

But I ask you again, if I like something that you don't like, why would you care? Why does it matter to you?

Friday, November 17, 2006

I had a dream that Ron Silliman was my manager at McDonalds.
I'm sexually attracted to Nancy Pelosi. I know its fucked up.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ys comes out tomorrow but I won't enough $ til Friday. Unless a certain Andy Mister wants to loan me the money...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Strangers With Candy quotes

"Only I can help you realize my dreams of yours."

"Jerri, most of your dad is in the belly of dog."

"How is everyone today? And how am I?"

"But please, no mylar balloons. They deflate. And I don't have the heart to throw them away."

"They only thing we hate more than a racist, is a spic."

"I'll make your pinky all stinky."

"Snatch it down."

"This photo will never see the light of freedom."

"I know you have a beef, Stew. But try not to stir things up."

"That albino is running away with my midget!" (actually censored)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This is cathartic: I also watched LA Law on a regular basis. I remember being very shocked indeed when Leland's mistress fell down that elevator shaft. And when Arnie Becker pulled a muscle in his scrotum from too much fucking. That stayed with me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Clark Coolidge Listens To The Beach Boys

Its very wonderful to discover these kinds of connections. In The Crystal Text, there's a line, "The laughs come in hard in Auld Lang Syne." I knew I'd heard this but didn't know where from. And then I realized its from this song by this man and this man who worked with this woman on her new album. It just makes me feel good, like all the things I like are a little galaxy, stars all corresponding to each other.
Situation Comedy

Here's a list of some of the sitcoms I've watched on at least a partially regular basis, for the Mr.

night court
hungry cougars making sweet cougar love
the cosby show
the simpsons (sitcom? its debatable)
strangers with candy (likewise)
curb your enthusiasm
king of queens
the andy griffith show
the dick van dyke show
leave it to beaver
silliman's blog
fawlty towers
the mary tyler moore show
that boy shits more than a mule that got into a bushel of pears!
barney miller (very kickass themesong)
get a life
furry tuna taco
the office (brittish version)

sitcoms I've never watched on a consistent basis:
arrested development
fresh prince of bel air (is that what its called?)
deze nutz!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today I bought The Crystal Text by Clark Coolidge and Homer's Art by Alice Notley at Woodland Pattern. Rob shaved. Chuck's letting his head fuzz get more longer. I didn't get a chance to say hi to Julie. Hi Julie! A certain local poet with an electrical last name said he bought Spicer's Language at a used bookstore, not really being aware of Spicer or his work. Said its not really his type of thing. Irritating. I want to have a poem that I read first in my 'normal' voice, then a sort of breathy coo. Poetry readings in general should be more sensual. Hard on. Can you imagine how awesome it would be if Lin Dinh for example who already has a breathy reading voice, read poems in a more sensual way. Or Lisa Jarnot? I've never (and this a gaping missing link in my desired life experience) heard CAConrad read but... You get the idea. CA? You out there? Am I trying to substitute poetry for sex? Do they stand in for each other? Well of course they do. When sex needs a rest, sex goes outside for some fresh air. And poetry (but other things too) may or may not stand in the spot in the light where sex was. And vice versa.

Oh yeah and my friend Elizabeth called me today and asked me if I voted. I friend her. I voted straight dem this time, cause its like what's the point of taking Governor Jim Doyle seriously and choosing him as an individual. I'm more into just voting against the republicans. Anyway my voting philosophy now is to just vote against the people and the shit that are fucking everything up. Strategic negation. For instance, there's a bullshit homophobic amendment up for the vote in WI. How this 'preserving the institution' bullshit is not seen as the straight up homophobia that it is, is truly gross. But yeah you should vote, if its not too late. Vote.

Maybe another time I'll go into my theory of how the dems are basicly just the Washington Generals to the Republicans' Harlem Globetrotters. Showing up as 'the opposing team' in a different uniform and not much else. Er, that basicly is the theory.

And I'm starting a blogzine called docent. Write to me at
I keep thinking re: poetry, poetry world and my own self-education in general, 'I have to get serious.' And it doesn't mean no more fun. Being serious means I think, well I'm not sure. I just know that I waste alot of time. And there's a point where one has to reckon all that time wasted. Gertrude Stein said I think that wasting time is nessecary for an artist. I agree. Or at least it makes me feel a little better. For instance, I watch TV too much. One shouldn't watch more than an hour of TV a day. But I watch more than that. Its just a routine I get into. Here's something potentially embarrassing. The show King of Queens is on reruns. I watch it. But not without guilt. Not without this Catholic King of Queens guilt. The show's really not that funny, most of the time. But it comes on between the Simpsons and Seinfeld. And after Seinfeld, Conan comes on. But I could be reading Wallace Stevens or studying The Cantos or Bruce Andrews' rebuttals to Bill O'Reilly! I also spend alot of time looking at the internet. Yes if you're reading this and have a flickr I've probly looked at it. My friends in the band Scrimshaw have this great song called I Looked At It. Very naughty, and yet the listener can't decide its naughty without a certain amount of presumption.

Friday, November 03, 2006

So I'd love to go and get the new Wowee Zowee reissue when it comes up but I'm pretty broke. And besides I don't seem to have it together enough to handle owning these deluxe Pavement dealies. I always lose part of it. In the case of Crooked Rain I'm not even sure where CD2 is. I think Zack might have it. Cool de la. I like that phrase I just discovered. My Dad used to call people he didn't like 'goofs'. That's funny too. Also I'm a little more excited for the next one from this person. I wonder if this'll draw the Mr.'s ire. (No I'm not married to a man. Tho it might be nice if I could borrow some money off this hypothetical man. And cuddle. But I won't lie that would be weird.) But 'Rattled By The Rush', I was really diggin it the other day. Didn't realize what a great a song that is. I'm going to buy batteries so I can listen to Crooked Rain on the bus to my job as a dishwasher. Wow. I have a fucking depressing outlook on life.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

When I was in my early teens I wanted to be a sports writer. I wrote this in an essay in Health class and ended up being invited to help keep score for the Basketball team. At around the time I lost interest in being a sports writer, I decided I'd be a rock critic. I left an obnoxious message on a local music magazine's answering machine, actually mocking the fact that they had an answering machine! I wrote a review of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in the school newspaper where I swore alot. And also under the name of Jello Biafra (didn't really know who he was though) I wrote a thing where kid is murdering his father. This got mentioned on local conservative disc jockey Mark Belling's show on WISN.
Yesterday at Woodland Pattern found Western Love and Dear Dad, by Bill Luoma. One was in the chap stacks. (Shit's rough in the chap stacks.) The other was in the much more plush drawers for the rare small press stuff. But Bill Luoma's books hang out wherever. Some of the Western Love poems are at the Po Pro website to be read. Bill Luoma's writing seems to be changing all the time. In My Trip To NYC, its chatty detail and journaling, and catching everything in the process with the enhanced facilities of someone who's maximally alive. Also in Works & Days, there's engine trouble, looking for new cleats. I think how to oil a new glove is covered in both Works & Days and Dear Dad. And then the stuff I read in Bay Poetics, intensity on a Coolidge tip. I think he writes online poems in code too.

Western Love has what a cowboy troubador might call little ditties, like this:

My bedroll is wet
with morning dew.
I must find my breakfast.
Nuts and berries are
plentiful, but the brush
is rustling with
animal sound.

Or this:

The cook returns
the ladle to the chuck
wagon. O friendly
ground, tonight you’ll
substitute for my lover.

Alot of these poems seem to me to have the quality of a note left out for someone, like the famous William Carlos Williams poem, This Is Just To Say. Of course WCW wrote many that have this feel but this is the one that came to mind:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

Also Spicer's Billy The Kid and George Stanley's Western poems come to mind. But this one has WCWness to it:
Remember the buffalo
bread you baked? I’ve
never met a better baker.
You sure can shoot, too
and throw a steer
on its side at the rodeo.

Luoma's poems here are a little more appealingly goofy. I don't know whether one can find 'buffalo bread' anywhere. The poems work quite well as a sequence, that is they achieve a cumulitive effect.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why The Raincoats Are The Greatest Ever (Off Top of Head)

1. First 20-30 seconds of The Raincoats.
2. Violin and (is that a kazoo) breakdown during No Side To Fall In.
3. Palmolive.
4. For how much better Lola is than the Kinks version.
5. No rock album has more emotional range.
6. Chorus during The Void.
7. No rock album is more spontaneous.
8. Why am I even putting this in the category of 'rock album'?
9. No rock album is less self-conscious.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In NY, got Alli Warren's COUSINS, newly out. She's one of my favorite poets. Here's a part from MY FACTLESS AUTOBIOGRAPHY I randomly opened up, and the opened up to:

My part was basically to hatch
with regard for human dignity and life
In my best foreign automobile
stunting the stupor fronting us
On the other hand this was the result
of the fact of having had two faces
completely undiagonosed and undeniable alliances
Cut through the parking lot at the southern most point
I have misplaced my W2
but I am becoming good for people
Scapegoating the badger

Something about her poems is so fuckin quoteable. I can't think of anything else to say right now. She's one of my favorite poets. And where's the fuckin thick spend years reading it gorgeous book, World, huh? I already want Alli Warren's Complete Works!

Friday, October 06, 2006

I don't quite understand when people say, "well I haven't written anything in a long time". I write something at least at once a day. And I'm not going to say "of course most of its crap", which seems somehow like the writerly thing to say. I just don't know what to do with most of it.


Stephanie Young is pretty fuckin amazing. In Telling The Future Off, the nerves break down then build back up. Something (I gonna risk sounding corny) redemptive in that. Some of the poems are ironically imbued with self-help sufficiency, but they practice real self-help. And they also help whatever self happens to be reading them. Reminds me of Alice Notley in more ways than one. But yeah, nerves. It seems to ask a very scary question: We've heard phrases like the connectedness of all living things etc., but what we are connected to really? Maybe that's too Matrixy. I also think of what I view as one of the most important things Kerouac said re: his own work and writing in general. When asked by Steve Allen to define beat, Kerouac just said, "mmmm... sympathetic." And then Steve Allen acted as if he thought Kerouac was joking.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Last night watched Powaqqatsi, the second in Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass' 'qatsi' trilogy. It says really remarkable things about the potential of film and music together. It has a definite dialectic, but the way it unfolds is very moving and effective. I'm watching the trilogy backwards. Next I have to see Koyaanisqatsi.


Lately I've been digging Rod Smith's In Memory of My Theories and Music or Honesty. His poems sound like nothing else. They're disjunct yet lyrical. About the sonic as well as the investigative possiblities of making poems, the making of making poems. Political in a way that's practiced rather than espoused. From Autopsy Turvy, a sequence in Music or Honesty:

A life is not important
except in the impact it has
on other lives
the invention of new souls
of flame, & of flame
a factor, becoming change
a determining systemic
infinity seams
to be human, to be a sound
of concerns shared therefore really
something that means nothing
but is nonetheless interesting

Sunday, October 01, 2006

When a poet comes to town, the local paper takes note and is also careful to preface it with something like this: "That news is unlikely to bring traffic to a standstill or send shock waves through the stock market." Why is this sentence there? Its like a presumption of boring the reader, like 'hold on hold on hear me out'. If there's a film being released that is anticipated to bring in alot of people, no newspaper article would say, "Well its the new Will Ferrell movie. And that news is unlikely to derail trains, or bankrupt Microsoft. But we think it might be big." Neither a reading nor a Hollywood blockbuster so drastically affect the infrastructure of society. It may affect this or that person's plans for the evening. I hate to sound like a snob, but poetry has never been a blockbuster art. I know I know. Such statements aren't meant to be taken literally. We're talking about a figure of speech, 'well its not gonna start any wars or cause any mass hallucinations among the grizzly bear population'. And a poetry reading getting a write up in a newspaper is in itself sort of rare and at least'll let plenty of people know its happening.

But the space created by a qualification that says in effect, 'hey man we don't flip out over poetry either but bare with us while we tell you about this guy John Ashbery coming to town' leaves room for people espousing dull 'populist' poetry to step in. Of course Michael Gizzi touches on this too, re: the Keiller-spin-a-little-yarn school, poetry that offers nothing except being easy to get. Maybe its a capitalist thing, as if poetry can be presented as a little industry, could be sold in trinket shops alongside apple-butter. And I think alot of poetry anthologies try consciously to fit into that niche. Is that from outside, extra-aesthetic pressures or simply from an editor's own prediliction? A little of both, I think. Its also irritating that the markebility of poetry and the popularity of poetry get conflated. And partly as a result of that conflation, writing about poetry/poetry readings that happens outside of a certain sphere tends to come with qualifiers and disclaimers.

Of course art does cause change. It affects perception. That's making an impact. A film, a reading, anything can do that. I guess it comes down to the question, why does the presumed disinterest on the part of some vague readership have to come along with write-ups of certain art/poetry events?

Friday, September 22, 2006

After the literature as buffet post, we see buffet serendipity.
So Jordan does kind of school me here, I agree that the real evil is the exclusion of a record of so many experiences. I'm a domestic person, so I guess its foolish to be attacking domesticity. But as for experience, there are many many others keeping a better record of it, in poem, magazine and anthology form than BAP. Everyone seems to agree on that. Maybe just completely ignore it, until it produces something worthwhile. Plant our own gardens, etc.
Is Literature a Buffet?

Right now I'm at the university library and soon I'll go up to the third floor and nibble on literature. Is this treating literature as buffet? Trying different books, sometimes reading one word. Sometimes only looking at the author photo. Sometimes only reading the blurb? Or maybe read 10, 20 pages, but thats a stretch, to be honest. In Milwaukee, as in every city, literature as buffet has been going for decades. Does it coincide with television? Talk radio? Where one finds literature as buffet, they are bound to find radio talk nearby. And Jack Spicer is pleased but confused.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BAP mmmmmrrrff's

I haven't read the new Best American Poetry (mmmrrrffff sound accompanied), and I don't know if I will. But one thing that seems to happen with each new one is that people start talking about 'aesthetics' again. And I kind of want to say who cares! Really. To me poetry that actively resists aesthetics is much more interesting. OK. Maybe a poetry that engages aesthetics. Aesthetics exists, as an ideological presence sure. And poetry should not exist in a vacuum. But so often it seems to, in a stuffy, yet disturbingly tidy, white, and yeah male vacuum. I don't think the answer is ignore aesthetics. At least, I don't know of any poetry that does do that successfully. And what kind of goal is that anyway? --to ignore something-- Poetry that would try to ignore aesthics, it seems, would fall into the trap of aesthetics in the worst way.

A poet who I used to read who I don't really look at much anymore is Charles Simic. I used to enjoy some of his poems quite a bit, and when I go back to them I can still kind of see why. But they take this attitude toward aesthetics that feels like 'We all know whats beautiful and what isn't, why trifle?'. There's just a tin-eared presentation of 'images' and 'insights'. To me, this takes away all of the investigative power that poetry has. Same with Billy Collins idea that a poem should be like an easily accesible apartment building, a cushy thing, about as risky as a Fudruckers. And at least you get a Cheeseburger there. In these kinds of poems all you get are images of the white male poet enjoying his own domesticity. Unquestioningly, unless its a question some dead person already covered, and they can put a little aesthetic around the icing, as it were. (mmmrrrrfff)

Like my friend Chuck said, there's a sufficiency thing. Like, heres what my poem does, take or leave it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Last night I was feeling bad and circling words in a newspaper article. The person next to me, "Well you're like a modern-day William Burroughs."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Poetry's For the Sweethearts

I saw K. Silem Mohammad and Anne Boyer read last night. The word that comes to mind with Mohammad is 'scary'. Things that are 'scary' and then things that really are 'scary'. I got a spooky suburban kind of vibe. And the suburbs are really monstous. His new chap is called Monsters.

Anne Boyer was great. People felt less inclined to laugh during her poems. But I don't see why. They're hilarious. And there's also something like a voice in there. More in the way that Alice Notley's written about voice, as a real struggling presence in the poetry, a part of its emotional anatomy. The traditional (last few decades anyway it seems) context for the word 'voice' is in the Poetry Workshop. 'Voice' is a word with a lot of negative connotation. Its been used traditionally as a way to approach one's career more than as a way to understand what one's doing when one writes poems, or writes anything. But when put just in the context of a poetry reading, its one of the very basic elements. Given all the intertextuality and tone-shifting (as in tone of voice) in Mohammad's poetr, its an interesting paradox that when he reads you just hear his voice. During a reading, one senses a poet's voice before, or at the very least as an inseperable component of , the words as they come at you. It would be different if one were discussing Robert Grenier, who I believe is on record as not seeing the poem as a spoken performance. And even when one is hearing someone like Boyer, or Mohammad, who both use found text, the voice that you are hearing is a good way to learn about what they're doing, or even (eek!) about them. I mean they don't just recite those poems all monotone and matter of fact and then sit back down. They perform them. And what's more, not everyone in the audience was an acquaintance of either of the two readers. I don't think everyone was nessecarilly in any way involved with poetry either. A woman sitting next to my friend Karl, asked how long the reading would take. The reading didn't go long. Its always nice, whether you are or aren't a poet, when a reading doesn't go on forever.

Of course I always think of how William Carlos Williams wrote in such a way that seemed scripted for performance but then wouldn't necessarilly read the poems aloud with any attention to the particularity of his line breaks. But I think the voice of the poet is really important, or least it irrevocably affects one's perception of the poems. Once you hear the voice its sort of like the cat being let out of the bag. In a good a way, like a really exciting secret! Thats sounds incredibly corny. But when I heard Joseph Ceravolo read on a recording, man it was just special. I hear Robert Creeley's voice when I read Robert Creeley's poems. Besides just having a great voice period, bassy and witty, Mohammad plays off of the disembodied subjectivity of his poems in a really excellent and entertaining way. A very memorable voice.

Poetry readings are the only performance-occasions I can think of where the audience needs to be given permission to laugh! I mean, if you're someone like Mohammad, whose poems are high-larious, as funny as any comedian today, then you really have an uphill battle. You have to let the audience know that they can laugh while you're reading, that they don't have to be so fucking solemn. I mean I don't know if he consciously does anything toward this end. But there's an almost instant unspoken understanding from the audience. The are definite analogies between poetry-reading and stand-up comedy. Steven Wright is someone who both poets and comics should look at. (Duh!) One very brilliant thing he does is after being introduced is go up before the audience, and for a second say nothing, and then very drolly, 'Thanks'. I'm not saying everyone can do what Steven Wright does, but this does something to his audience. I wish poets would think about that more. But yeah there definitely needs to be a CD or something of K. Silem Mohammad reading.

I think my favorite part of the evening might've been when Anne Boyer read "Is Poetry for Assholes?". Of course some in the audience reflexively said 'Yes'. Anne Boyer was kind of bemused then, and she said "No! Poetry's for the sweethearts!" It is.

Monday, August 21, 2006

CAConrad says really inspiring things here. He is uninhibited.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Re: FLARF's subjectivity. Is it nessecarilly only achieved through google-sculpting? I think obviously not.


I thought of that song about a magic carpet ride. Now you're thinking,"Does he mean that Steppenwolf song or the song from Alladin?" Either one I guess. But, how many poems are like a magic carpet ride?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

One reason I keep coming back to the New York poets I love so much, Frank, Ted, Joe (Ceravolo), Alice, Ron, Joe (Brainard), Kenneth, is because of how readable their work is. I mean, its challenging, its vigorous with form, they don't take you by the hand and walk through their work, they don't practice the Billy Collins poem as hotel with indoor water park for the (fucking) kids model. But, with a few exceptions, its work that generally doesn't feel at all inaccessible. One reason I started thinking this is from thinking about Kenneth Goldsmith's uncreative writing that isn't really even meant to be read. Or Silliman's new thing, where he's apparently going to write 300 or something books of poetry that will compose Universe. And right now I'm reading Tjanting and its great, but it seems that part of the point in it is that it not be readable, until one develops a proper reading strategy. That seems to have been a big part of the disruptivity thing in Langy Poesy. You can't read it the way you read novels or textbooks. But what I see in NY stuff is this exuberance in making it, and also intimacy and empathy, humanity. And self-consciousness, which is also very human.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The question (far as I know) no one's asked: What will happen when their voices change? Still, music needs more of this. Not sure what in it exactly I'm referring to but yeah...

Friday, July 28, 2006

So do we just blame summer for nationwide power outages? Flooding? Deadly heat? I can already feel this ideology taking hold in me. But that's kind of the same logic one hears when discussing small businesses stamped out by corporations, and the general alienation that continues to socially divide the country. Discussing Wal Mart, my Dad once said, "Well things change." But is the way a corporation like that operates to be compared to something like a thunderstorm coming from the west or how nobody wears zubaz anymore. Just trends and currents all permeating around us like trees in a forest? Do I blame summer for global warming? No. That would be like blaming a pie for baking after you put it in a 400 degree oven. But there's this kind of 'what are you gonna do?' logic, that most ascribe to. Where you blame directly whats in front of you.


There's this cell phone ring that is without a doubt the most annoying I've ever heard. It sounds like depravity disguised as playful jollity. Like two murderous clowns masturbating each other.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No one can say precisely why a certain artist does what they do. But the Raincoats for example were directly spurred on by seeing the Slits. But artists aren't necessarilly trying to critique whats around them as much as we might think they are. Critics do fill some of that in. Its partially their job-- address context, circumstances. I mean there's always the question of how do you talk about a thing that needs to talked about in order to survive, in our minds. Neglectorinos, as a concept, invite a sort of comparison between themselves and what would seem to be more available, but less stimumlating, less interesting, less original. This can set up a phony dichotomy. What can also happen is that one places them in a tradition. This does make sense. Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie are in the same tradition. One can say that Frank O'Hara and Ted Berrigan are in the same tradition. Basic examples. Placing a band like the Raincoats in a certain context, the context of bands-Kurt-Cobain-likes, that existed during the 90s, might be what got their records reissued. I mean its a silly way to look at them. One might even say I was a poseur, for getting that first record on Kurt's distant recomendation. But if it makes the stuff available, we'll take it y'know? There's something very elitist about the idea that everyone has to find out about things for themselves. That old 'we went through this now you have to go through this' logic.
I won't 'call the authenticity police'. Acutally this makes sense. What most made Milwaukee famous, besides Sidney Moncrief, is Pabst. Hasn't been manufactured here for a long time.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I wonder when people will start being nostalgic for the 90s. What? They already are? What? They were nostalgic for the 90s during the 90s? Whoah...

Monday, July 24, 2006

I've noticed that when I write prose there are alot word drops. It make sound like Tarzan.
I've never trusted the idea of music-that-real-people-listen-to. Its usually used as a kind of leveraging against indie music. I mean nobody will really say now that they're favorite kind of music is indie rock, because the indie thing no longer means any specific kind of music, and also (and this is the major reason I suspect) because the indie thing is almost more a social signification now than anything else. But as recently as the early 90s things were still somewhat defined. There was a clear division between someone like Garth Brooks and Pavement. Garth Brooks obviously sold more records and what not. And Steve Malkmus never hovered over his audience suspended from wires. But there's also a difference in demographic. There's a level of obsessiveness with Pavement's music, and the pursuit of it, 7" singles, imports, EPs etc. Could you by the same token say that Garth Brooks fans hunt down all Garth Brooks recordings that exist with the same fervor. I don't think so. I mean I can't say for sure, but I really doubt it. When you move that many units it comes down to the idea that the thing is a commodity, not even something to own, but something to buy. There's a perverse kind of decadence to spending 35 bucks on a Pavement bootleg too. But I think the difference is in the obsessiveness. Most people who bought Garth Brooks music probably didn't obsess over them. They don't invite obsession because there's nothing to obsess over. Its a pure kind of distraction, an entertainment. Its meant simply to be identified with, in a generic way. I worked in a truckstop in the late 90s. I remember noticing how defiantly generic the lyrics were. It was weirdly slacker, though this was the supposed antithesis of 'slacker music'. A song would take pride in being nothin' special. I remember a lyric that went something like "Lets just stay in watch TV and eat onion rings". Can you get more 'slacker' than that? But apart from those kinds of statements the music was really just meant to be listened to and then taken out of the deck or CD tray, or whatever. To come and go. And not bore you, or make you think too much. Pavement's music, regardless anything the band conciously tried to put forth, does invite obsession. I'll never be able to fully figure out why "Gold Sounds" makes me so happy. Its one of the reasons I still listen to it. The lyrics aren't really trying to identify with me, not at least, in the way of a statement like 'hey you like stuff too huh?'. At one point, Malkmus says 'we need secrets' and repeats 'crets, crets, crets, crets, crets...' And at another point, there's the phrase 'because you're empty and I'm empty'. But the song is utterly uplifting to me, in more than just the happy-song-with-sad-lyrics way.

Now things have changed so drastically that the divisions that once could be taken for granted really don't exist anymore, not the way they did. I mean, mainstream country still fills stadiums, state fairs and festivals in rural areas. But who is its biggest star? That Keith Urban guy seems to exist almost as Nicole Kidman's husband more than as a Big Country Star. And an artist that I currently obsess over is Ariel Pink. But that obsession doesn't seem to mean the same thing. In the 90s (tho I only realized this in retrospect) Pavement were the band to say you liked as a leveraging against mainstream music. Ariel Pink has a following I'm sure. But 'followings' have multiplied exponentially. A friend of mine has a running joke where he's being asked "Whats your subculture dude?" But there really haven't been any new subcultures in this decade. Can you call 'electro' or 'alt-country' or 'garage rock' a subculture? Goth is a subculture. It exists almost indenpendently of the music. But the subcultures almost seem to be disappearing. Where did rave culture go? It might have just gone where I can't see it. But there don't seem to be viable subcultures within which innovative music is happening-- where an integral part of the subculture is that music be somewhat forward-looking or at least try avoid cliches. There's always been an uneasy detente between style and music in musical subcultures. But the word subculture, that nomenclature just doesn't work anymore. It doesn't mean anything to say you're punk. In the 90s, maybe right before it ultimately got subsumed into the mall culture, it seems like it did mean something to say that. But now, if someone's a punk it might just mean they shop at a certain store. Or that they ride the rails. There are still basement shows. They're a part of indie culture, which is a huge thing. It can encompass restaurants, shops, bars. Its always been like that. But now it seems to have lost definition or at least shifted.

It might just be that I'm out of touch. I was never in touch. I never went to punk shows as a teenager. I ordered CDs through the mail, from my house in the Township of Addison, Wisconsin. Of course alot weird music still happens inside and outside the indie network. But opposing the mainstream doesn't seem as vital now, because its harder to see what the mainstream is.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Regarding the last post, of course most poets (most of the ones I know) would rather be writing than doing whatever it is they do to get money. I'm not alone in disliking my job. But I really would like to do something, where people generally don't notice me, and so don't get peeved too easily at me. Maybe mailboy would be nice. But if someone doesn't get their mail they'd take it out on the mailboy I'm sure.


One of Language Poetry's main innovations seems to be forefronting the process of writing a poem. Like, to put it bluntly, how the fuck did Bruce Andrews write this. Of course I'm completely ignorant about Bruce Andrews and alot of other Language Poets. And the term Language Poetry is kind of outdated and maybe was never taken that seriously by the people who are classified as such. I mean Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews edited a mag called L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, but I don' t think I've ever read anywhere where one of them said, "Well, as Language Poets, this is what we do." I know the early writing is kind of in the vein of manifesto, which turns me off from the get-go. And there is some sense of a project, a collective undertaking, but only in that the writers read each other's work and encouraged each other. Almost all writers who don't live in the mountains or something do that. LP's were maybe just more explicit in doing that.

There's alot of paranoia almost to the point of urban myth surrounding LP. I heard a story about Robert Grenier having lunch with Tom Clark. So the other 'language poets' parked in front of his (Grenier's) house as a protest. This is they story I heard. Whether its true or not really doesn't matter.

When I've taken workshops, I've heard people say things like 'well its kinda languagey' about certain poems. To me this is just code for 'I'm not gonna try and understand this'. But then if one goes into most workshops in hopes of having a really enlightening experience, they're gonna be pretty dissapointed. I had a professer who warned their students about Language Poetry, which is totally stupid and defeating what they should be doing, which is saying 'Well check it for yourself. Go investigate.' I think anyone who's dedicated will do that anyway, but it still doesn't help to have a stigma attached to something. I don't see the point of telling your students not to read something.

I don't really know why I'm spending so much time on Language Poetry. Its way in the past. A phenomenon of the late 70s and 80s. Alot of those people are still doing interesting work. But the 'Language Poetry' thing is over. The way LP was treated tho seems to be applied to 'experimental' poetry in general now. 'Experimental' seems like an even more meaningless term. There's a level at which this is all rhetoric. Throwing words around.

At the university level, poetry is regarded as part of a canon. And certain poetry is willfully left out of the canon. And you could say, "Good. I don't care whether people regard Joseph Ceravolo as in the company of someone like Robert Frost anyway." But then, right now, no Joseph Ceravolo books are in print. So one can't really say "I'll have my Ceravolo and you'll have your Frost" because Ceravolo's books are not available, except from certain university libraries and rare books rooms. Or you could look for them online. A copy of Wildflowers Out of Gas might run you hundreds of dollars. With Frost, you could find his books at any local bookstore.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I think its pretty well understood by everyone I work with that I'm kind of lazy, that not much can be expected of me on the job. Maybe this will sound pretentious, but there's a kind of bitterness that builds when you realize that the thing, maybe the one thing, you're on the planet for will never help you sustain yourself financially. That is, writing poems. So 'work', your job, becomes a kind of con: trying to pass yourself as being what you think they want you to be. You find yourself having thoughts like, 'Just like let me work here. Just let me come and do stuff and leave and get a paycheck every other Thursday so's I can pay rent and have food.'

Friday, July 14, 2006

FOH's criteria: what poetry is better than the movies?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Language Poetry is one of those things, like William Carlos Williams, where I find myself more interested in their influence than in the actual work. Is that weird?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Again the philosophgy thing. Does a poet need it. I mean its good and nessecary to have a philosophy. But to what extent is it nessecary to have Philosophy? Obviously it would inform my writing. But then maybe it wouldn't. But then maybe I'm uninformed. But then maybe I'm.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt is an amazing record. It was made after Wyatt broke his back and became wheelchair bound. Before that he was in Soft Machine, doin' Canterbury prog-jazz thing. Rock Bottom bears some resemblance to that music but its more open-ended, with a mobility similar to a sea creature moving through the ocean, many tendriled.

Alifib by Robert Wyatt

Not nit not nit no not
Nit nit folly bololey
Alifi my larder
Alifi my larder
I can't forsake you or
Forsqueak you
Alifi my larder
Alifi my larder
Confiscate or make you
Late you you
Alifi my larder
Alifi my larder
Not nit not nit no not
Nit nit folly bololy
Burlybunch, the water mole
Hellyplop and fingerhole
Not a wossit bundy, see ?
For jangle and bojangle
Trip trip
Pip pippy pippy pip pip landerim
Alifi my larder
Alifi my larder
(I'm not your larder,
jammy jars and mustard.
I'm not your dinner,
you soppy old custard.
And what's a bololey
when it's a folly?
I'm not your larder,
I'm your dear little dolly.
But when plops get too helly
I'll fill up your belly.
I'm not your larder,
I'm Alife your guarder).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Joanna Newsome's The Milk Eyed Mender just keeps blowing me away. There are points, like with any great record, of just listening and being astonished. I think a feeling of astonishment, almost being overwhelmed is important. And I don't mean technical or special effects or that type of thing. The Raincoats for instance, are astonishing. Just listening to them make music together on their first record, is astonishing. But yeah about Joanna Newsome's music, there's just something about the synthesis of the voice, the instrument and the words, that feels so new, so rare. But there's a natural openness. She has an emotional dexterity within the music. Like say, Monk, the music is very complex and very moving at the same time. There's music in the whole body. Ecstatic. It doesn't have to be a mystical or a religious fervor, just a human making sound matter in the air. And contact. Basic intimacy, as in 'I to you and you to me' (Frank O'Hara). Joanna Newsome's music is enigmatic at the same time tho, I grant you. Meaning simply she doesn't hold your hold. But this gives you more to key into every listen. And you can also passively listen. Its just a wonderful sound to have in the air of one's immediate environment. And everything's in the air. When you make a sound you put it into the air. Joanna Newsome puts her perception, her experience of being alive and knowing others are alive into the air, like in any art.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The purpose of this blog, if I can continue with it, and for some reason I feel that it must have a purpose and that I must continue with it, will be to learn how to write critically in my own way. That is without having to resort to phrases like 'the plain musical tautness of Lorine Niedecker'. Without having to resort to 'phrases' at all for that matter. I mean maybe LN's poems do have said quality, but it doesn't feel like something that comes from my experience of the work. Its very hard to get to that. No big surprise, but one person who I feel is able to do that is Alice Notley in Coming After. And there's a temptation to try for Lester Bangs prosody. He did pretty much write about everything. But its seems ill-advised, after how many have imitated him, to go down that road. The other big rock critic I read in my teens and early early twenties was Simon Reynolds. I remember being pretty bowled over by The Sex Revolts. I found myself really turned off by it after a recent rereading tho. Like Bly on poetry, too many binaries. Putting things in binaries is just too easy. This will be mostly a poetics blog. I won't consider it a poetry blog because dodo is that, and its that because it really is all poetry, or has been for some time. Thing about poetics blogs, lime tree, Silliman's Blog, bemsha swing et al., is that they all seem to have an implied basis (at least partly) in theory. Maybe theory's not the right word, but what I mean is an implied thing where you at least partly understand poetry through, I don't know, Roland Barthes. I have always thought (really) that the way one understands poetry is through itself. I mean you could look at Lunch Poems and contextualize it with the work of someone who dealt theoretically in a similar vein. I think people like Ron Silliman have done alot to bring that about. Do you have to tho? But like I said I just don't have that frame of reference. I'd love to read Barthes. I'd probably like it alot. But I always just figured you understand poetry by reading poetry. Like with Notley. If you want to understand her poetry, you read her poetry with an open mind. And then maybe you read some poets she mentions in interviews and such, who might have influenced her own work. Is this naive?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I couldn't find what is supposed to be my own blog! 21st century dilemna. But there are much more beautiful ways to indentify something with your century. See Frank O'Hara, specifically 'Napathia'.

'The Wild Ones' by The London Suede is a really good song. I first saw the video for it on 120 Minutes. I miss that show. Most of what was shown on it was pretty bad, but I'm still nostalgic. Maybe for that time in my life, when everything seemed at once very possible and very far away. Distance can increase the feeling of responsibility.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I just read Pitchfork's top albums of the 90s thing. I would've included these:

Bugskull: Phantasies and Sensations

Mercury Rev: Yerself is Steam

Lisa Germano: Geek the Girl

Lisa Germano: Happiness

Versus: The Stars Are Insane

Daisy Chainsaw: Eleventeen

Aphex Twin: I Care Because You Do

Mouse on Mars: Autoditacker

Jesus and Mary Chain: Stoned & Dethroned

Disco Inferno: DI Go Pop

Magnetic Fields: Charm of the Highway Strip

Elliot Smith: Roman Candle

The first Tricky and Wu-Tang should both have been in the top ten. I don't think OK Computer is the best album of the 90s. To me whats notable about it as much as anything else, is that it marked a return of The Serious Rock Band Trying To Make The Greatest Album Of The Decade concept. In that respect it isn't surprising that many critics regard it as such, but to me the album as a whole seems more like a Dark Side of the Moon type effort. If one's thinking about influence, which these lists usually are, Radiohead were and are influential. Maybe I'm too much of snob, but I'll always resist the notion that influence alone equals greatness. If you mean influence over other musicians, then don't we have to start giving Steve Vai props too? He's not on Pitchfork's list. If you mean cultural influence, then doesn't Brittney Spears loom much larger in the 90's pantheon than Radiohead? A critic should suss out to some degree what was its own commodity, unlike anything else, and how it attained/attains those qualities. And yeah there is some measure of importance to be considered.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Very rarely can something aptly be called dispicable.

Friday, February 10, 2006


There is alot travel, physically and mentally. Most poets who focus on 'nature' or natural phenomena, seem to be all about being closer to an otherness, that might be God or some other mystical type mojo. Alot of it just ends up sounding sanctimonious, like someone worried over whether they appreciate something enough. In a book, like Rivers & Birds, which might be categorized as Nature or even Birding, the narration is of watching land as it passes. The sense of mental travel comes from memory and a sense of forlornness. When there is exhultation, its an intent, precise exhultation. Which seems very unlike most writing about nature, where is there is a narrator speaking for the birds and trees, and then they're talking back too and telling the narrator (of course) something about George Bush. Gilfillan has a deeper respect for his experience of the places he goes to.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

There is something about Gillfillan's vocabulary. In the poetry, there is alot of trekking through areas that are either uninhabited or inhabited scantily. He seems to know the name of each plant, animal and especially bird that he encounters. Place is what sings however. There is a remarkable combining of the word-generator aspect one founds in someone like Clark Coolidge or Michael Gizzi, and the plain musical tautness of Lorine Niedecker. I don't know what alot of the words mean, but that's hardly to say those words themselves are used to some effect of exoticizing the poem. Gillfillan puts each one where it belongs, for the sake of accurate description, and facilitating the overall measure of it. Balance and spontenaiety at the same time. By all means one should know what the words in a poem mean. But I can't help but think that in Merrill Gilfillan's poetry, that's beside the point. The poems have a variousness that seems to me to rival only Pound or Frank O'Hara.
Merril Gilfillan Selected Poems 1965-2000

I've been waiting for this. Merrill Gilfillan is one of the great underrated poets of recent American poetry. His vocabulary, brea(d)th, and ear for poetry is spectacular and regenerative. The poems are like prairies, some large, some small, all outwardly blooming yet unfettered by the author's ego, or by preconcieved ideas about nature. The language has a way of blossoming out from itself, while still maintaining a train of thought. There's nobody like him. More later.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bill Luoma

Read My Trip to New York City, because I heard it compared to Tambourine Life by Jordan Davis. Ok is that sycophantic? Well I didn't pay for it. Checked it out. And its pretty amazing. A series of paragraphs that connect but are self-contained by seperate ideas/observations/memories. People from Luoma's life (presumably) are in them: Douglass, Helena, Brian. Also Paul Molitor and Robin Yount. My favorite paragraph:

"There was a perfect cab ride from 13 th street to Brooklyn. It was at a late hour and I can say that the streets were as empty as they were going to get. The cab driver was a rasta, so he already knew the concept. After abouth the fifth time me and Douglass looked at each other every time we made a light. We noted that the speed was 32. The driver sang just my imagination in what was pretty close to a high falsetto. We didn't miss a light."

A brief passage in a much larger text, but so lovely. In prose that's terse enough to avoid becoming tedious, but not too terse to have "pretty close". It's speech but it's spot-on marvelous, all connected by the web that is one's social life and experience. Each sentence has a new detail-- cab ride from 13th to Brooklyn, late hour/streets empty, driver is a rasta, looking at each other, making every light, speed of 32, driver singing, almost a high falsetto voice, making every light. Does one go ahead and say that making every light is a metaphor? Its works more as a journal, evoked with such efficient vocabulary and description. The idea is that vernacular is modulated, sort of, to tell the story in a more streamlined and more vivid way. Its a driving prose. So OK, Kerouac wrote pretty famous driving prose. But the literal action here contains a trek from point A, Manhattan, to point B, Brooklyn. It went smoothly, though one might have said it went smoothly because there wasn't a flat tire or a mugging. This ride went so smoothly, it made the speaker and Douglass look at each other each they made a light. It was a brief spot when one felt like one glided through.

This whole work is pretty great example of what's become sort of a genre, which could be called Social Diary. A notable precursor is Ted Berrigan's letter to Ron Padgett from the Berkley Poetry Conference. One's documenting specific streets, places, people. The speech resembles them recounting it all to you, maybe over the telephone. A funny quote, the perfect cab ride, a taxi driver with a high falsetto voice.

Monday, February 06, 2006

To read & write is symmetrical. The prose trickles PHAT KNOWLEDGE.