4.28.2006

Friend of Darth-y



This is who comes out for George Takei.

Thanks to Helena Handbasket for use of her photo.

Collage of News and Notes

Since it's been a week to direct your attention elsewhere, check out Merge Poetry, a local online magazine that just released its first print issue.


The new beautiful thing in my life: Erasure's acoustic album Union Street.


Feeling better slowly.


Went to see George Takei speak last night. You might remember him as Mr. Sulu on Star Trek or as the voice of The Howard Stern Show on Sirius radio. He discussed the importance of coming out—and of giving money to the Human Rights Campaign.


Both Thank You For Smoking and American Dreamz were effective satires, but could have been better executed. Sorry, Katie. You got all that filth on ya for nothing. (But Mandy Moore has my heart!)

4.27.2006

Check It (But Don't Wreck It)

The new issue of Lodestar Quarterly is up, featuring new poems by one of my favorite poets, Maureen Seaton!

Don't miss it.

4.25.2006

Strange Fruit

My friend Stephanie's new online magazine just premiered! Please stop by, read the current work, and consider submitting!

Click for the Blood Orange Review

4.24.2006

Manifest Destiny



Whenever I drive on the 10 heading west, I see this sign.

Los Angeles. Just ahead.

Every time I drive under it, I fight the temptation to ditch my real destination and just keep driving west. Through the desert and its strange little towns: Blythe, Indio, Desert Center, Palm Desert...

Los Angeles with its beautiful coast and the mountains and the green and the spaghetti bowl of its freeways and Six Flags.

I understand why people believe so strongly in heaven. At times, it's all we can do to convince ourselves there is something more than what we have—that there is a perfect place for us. It's what tempts me to fill the tank, hop in the car, and drive toward the sunset until I'm back in California again, back in the beautiful, where the water is, where the city is.

My heart is full-on West Coast.

4.23.2006

I Know This Much Is True

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

       —Elizabeth Bishop

4.22.2006

Don't Be a Behrle-Man!

Last night as I sat in a booth at the bar, I looked over toward one of the televisions, which was tuned to VH1, and saw:

Jim Behrle, topless, stretched out on his stomach on a bed.

It wasn't even The Surreal Life!

4.21.2006

Spam of Portent

Spam is the new tea leaves.

Today, I am warned of

"sudden"
"atonement"

Franz Ferdinand Friday



"The last message you sent said I looked really down
That I oughtta come over and talk about it
Well I wasn't down
I just wasn't smiling at you, yeah"

            "You Could Have It So Much Better"

4.20.2006

What a Difference a Day Makes

From time to time you are given things by the world that are valuable. It's important to recognize and give thanks for these gifts, and to learn from them.

My life in the past two months: all gifts.

The kind of time when you keep waiting for the other boot to drop. Then the third, fourth, fifth boot. (This is an allusion—possibly also an illusion.)

I want to be the boy who is less cryptic but still something beautiful and meaningful. I think things laden with meaning are glamourous. I look for mulitplicity in all things. Let's be more multiple, I've urged. More is better than none. None is better than just enough to make you even thirstier than you were when you began.

4.19.2006

Poetry Flash(ing)

Apparently, the interview Sarah Vap and I did with Lynn Emanuel has appeared in the most recent Poetry Flash.

Lynn was a gracious and kind interviewee and Sarah and I really enjoyed spending time with her.

Lynn first got me thinking about poetry in series and in sequence, which drove me headlong into the world of kinemapoetics, so, thanks for that, Lynn.

Spam Has Feelings, Too

rave
consonant phobic
spineless
house
heartache inconclusively
leading
deceit shelving


...it's like spam knows me...knows my heart.

4.17.2006

Spam: It's What's for Dinner II

Subject lines of spam emails I received at work last night:

New part-time vacancies available in your area
Message subject
gelatin
ratess approved
inaudible sensuous
virtuoso grocery
worker laid-back
spinal cord recoil

4.13.2006

LOCUSPOINT news

I'm pleased to announce the following cities coming on board LOCUSPOINT to close out 2006. I think I'll have another exciting LOCUSPOINT announcement in a week or so.

Chicago
edited by Francesco Levato
Submission deadline: June 30
City launches on LOCUSPOINT: October 30

Santa Fe/Albuquerque
edited by Alex Gildzen
Submission deadline: July 30
City launches on LOCUSPOINT: November 30

Atlanta
edited by Laurel Snyder
Submission deadline: August 30
City launches on LOCUSPOINT: December 30

We're constantly adding more cities into the new year! Keep your eyes here for more updates.

4.12.2006

When One Has Lived Alone for a Very Long Time

For the first time in several years, I've realized I have so little completed work to send out.

Thus: I am currently sending nothing out. I am still generating new work, which is rough and tough, and I keep taking peeks at this other book in my life, this seemingly-finished book that I think needs more editing, revising, reshaping.

Nothing from that collection has been published. And I think only a handful of people have even seen that work.

It is hard thing to know if I have gone too far with it. How much assault can you take. Where is the line between the poignance of misery and the misery of reading bad poetry.

I'm reminded of a poem I loved in the issue of Mid-American Review, the one with Teresa's amazing poems in it. It has a long narrative title and is a short poem. I can't recall it now, here, but maybe I can post it later so you will better understand.

Meanwhile, I'm peeking at the work. I'm asking it, Are you done yet? Because mostly I want you out of my house and out of my life.

Hot Man-on-Man Action

David Wojahn interviews Spencer Reece.

It doesn't get hotter.

4.11.2006

Name That Film

"It looks just like Skinny-n-Sweet, except for the little skull and crossbones on the box."

4.10.2006

The Man Inside Me



I saw Inside Man this weekend and I never would have guessed I would care about a film in which Clive Owen's face was obscured by a large mask.

Turns out even just the outline of his luscious lips is good enough.

It's a good film, even though I thought it was going to end five times before it actually did—a self-conscious throwback to the crime/noir style of filmmaking of another era. Denzel does his thing, Clive Owen does his hulky thing, and Jodie Foster does her I'm-the-cutest-bitch-ever thing. No real surprises here. It's not a film that you need to puzzle out, although you can't help but draw conclusions as it goes.

The film benefits from the interest generated by watching the bank robbery plan unfold (sort of slowly) and by the vivid cast of nobodies who play the hostages. It's hard to write full-color nobodies, but the film manages to make them compelling characters.

It's probably the best, most evenly-toned Spike Lee film I've seen. What's nice is Lee peppers the film with several moments of commentary on racism. For Lee, I thought these moments were a bit subdued, but they were still effective in demonstrating how everybody's got it out for somebody. "Everybody thinks I'm an Arab," complains one Sikh hostage. He goes on to voice his frustration with American racism. "But I bet you can still get a cab," Denzel counters. "Yeah, I guess that's one of the perks," the Sikh man responds.

On another note, I couldn't help but think of Arrested Development's episode where Tobias Funke talks about his only successful book, which was "very popular at gay bookstores around the country":



I'm guessing Inside Men will be hitting the racks of your local gay porn shop before the year is out. Should be pretty hot.

4.09.2006

Me As Pop Art Icon

Represent

For Christmas this year, I asked for a gift certificate to Neighborhoodies because for some time I've wanted to make my own jacket/sweatshirt thing. It took a few months to get the certificate to work and then a few weeks for the sweatshirt to be made, but I finally got it this week:



I love it! See? It's not like I can't ever be ironic. Tempe (and yes, most of the Phoenix metro area) is one of the ugliest parts of the country I've ever been in, by and large, so I thought it would be funny to have a sweatshirt that turned a blind eye to this fact. Okay, it might not be ugly, but it's definitely not what I'd consider "scenic" by any means.

The sweatshirt is high-quality American Apparel-made, and the lettering is machine-stitched to the garment.

4.08.2006

Who's That Girl?

Franz Ferdinand Friday

"You smile, mention something that you like
Oh how you'd have a happy life
If you did the things you like"

      —"Dark of the Matinee," Franz Ferdinand

4.07.2006

All About My Birthday

Events

1614 - In Virginia, Native American Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe.
1792 - U.S. President George Washington vetoes a bill designed to apportion representatives among U.S. states. This was the first time the presidential veto had been used in the United States.
1930 - In an act of civil disobedience, Mohandas Gandhi breaks British law after marching to the sea and making salt.
1951 - Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are sentenced to death for performing espionage for the Soviet Union.
1956 - Fidel Castro declares himself at war with the President of Cuba.
2006 - Apple Computer officially anounced the support of Windows XP for the Intel Mac with a program code-named "Boot Camp".

Births

1588 - Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher (d. 1679)
1837 - Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet (d. 1909)
1856 - Booker T. Washington, American educator (d. 1915)
1900 - Spencer Tracy, American actor (d. 1967)
1908 - Bette Davis, American actress (d. 1989)
1909 - Albert R. Broccoli, American film producer (d. 1996) (Bond films)
1916 - Gregory Peck, American actor (d. 2003)
1920 - Arthur Hailey, American writer (d. 2004)
1926 - Roger Corman, American film director, producer, and writer
1934 - Frank Gorshin, American actor (d. 2005) (Batman's The Riddler)
1937 - Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State (2000-2004)
1942 - Peter Greenaway, Welsh film director
1964 - Christopher "Kid" Reid, American actor, rapper (Kid 'n Play)
1968 - Paula Cole, American musician
1973 - Pharrell Williams, American musician and producer (The Neptunes)

Deaths

1964 - General Douglas MacArthur, U.S. general (b. 1880)
1976 - Howard Hughes, American aviation pioneer, film director, and eccentric (b. 1905)
1994 - Kurt Cobain, American musician (b. 1967)
1997 - Allen Ginsberg, American poet (b. 1926)

Holidays and observances

On April 5, 2006 at two minutes past one o'clock in the morning, it will be 01:02:03 04/05/06 -- this will be the only time that this occurs until 2106 (for countries observing the mm/dd/yy date convention at least).
For those countries not on a 24-hour clock, this will also occur in the early afternoon.

Arbor Day in South Korea.

The last day of the tax year in the United Kingdom.

In Star Trek, April 5, 2063, is the First Contact Day. This day marks the first interaction of the human race and an extraterrestrial race, the Vulcans. This day is celebrated by some Trekkies.

What Sincerity Means to Me

For days I have been trying to write a post about sincerity in poetry, but I can't seem to make anything coherent come together.

I hope that my sense of this is clear when you read my work. Maybe that's the best test of it anyway.

4.06.2006

Project Runway Fans, Listen Up

For those of you out there who loved Ann Slowey's response to Emmett's ice skating dress ("There's entirely too much tootie exposed"), PLEASE click here immediately to hear my friend John's technotronic tribute to her.

4.04.2006

A Love Story

Writing about Hiroshima, Mon Amour last week gave me a hankering to watch one of my other favorite films from that era—Agnes Varda's beautiful Cleo from 5 to 7.



It begins with a tarot reading. "Choose 3 cards for the past, 3 for the present, 3 for the future. The cards are easier to read when you appear. Oh, there you are," the reader says, flipping over the last card: a woman in an old fashioned gown. She seems to be waiting for something. Cleo needs to know: Am I ill?? Redoing the spread, she turns over Death. "It means a complete transformation of your being," explains the reader.

Cleo, a pop song princess, fears all change.

For the next 90 minutes, Varda's film follows Cleo throughout Paris—in one of the earliest experiments with real time filmmaking—as she meets with friends, her lover, her assistant, and a very special stranger.

It's an oddly affecting film. Varda's use of both visual and dialogical metaphor is stunning and avoids the obtuse by staying relevant. "I love trying things on," Cleo coos to herself while putting a hat on her head in a shop. "Everything becomes me."



As she begins to unravel, Varda inserts shots of store-window masks—tribal masks—that evoke the sense that we are all, to some degree, just an artifice. Cleo's transformation—but is she dying? And does it matter?—takes her from one extreme to the other, completely breaking her down along the way and building her back up again.

As an experiment, she turns on one of her own hits on a cafe jukebox and then slowly wanders through the restaurant to gauge the customers' responses to her music.

My favorite metaphor in the film, though, is the frog. As she first sets out to escape her unravelling life, Cleo encounters a street performer who inserts several small frogs into his mouth and then, with a wave of his hand, spits out a huge stream of water. Disgusted, Cleo runs on down the street. Later, she meets a French soldier on leave from Algeria—himself a kind of frog—whose presence is the final leg of Cleo's journey from 5 to 7.

4.03.2006

The Importance of Being Important

Recently, Tony said

"One error often committed by novice poets and readers as well as experienced poets and readers is one of self-perception. If you think you are doing Very Important Work you probably are not."

I thought this was an interesting stance to take, and initially, I thought I completely disagreed with Tony's opinion. After all, I thought, if we don't consider our work important, why do we bother writing it?

But after giving it more and more thought over the weekend, I think I understand that Tony's point isn't about considering the work we do important, but considering it to be Important, with a capital I. (Tony, please correct me if I've misunderstood.)

Initially, I was thinking, "Well, what about poets like Adrienne Rich?" I'm pretty sure Adrienne thinks the work she does is important—she is a poet with clear intentions. She writes to change things; she writes out of anger and frustration and disappointment and hope. I admire that when it's done well, and I think she is the model of how to write good, politically-aware and engaged poems.

But I would hesitate to say that Rich considers her work Important. In fact, I think it is her goal to avoid that kind of capital-I Importance when she writes.

Capital-I Important work to me implies that the work either alleges its own Importance or requires the reader to stay disengaged from it—to quote MC Hammer, "Can't touch this"—or, that is to say, there is a clear division between the poet and the reader.

Or maybe in Important poems the message trumps the work of the piece. Didactic poetry, then, would probably fall into the category of work that falls victim to the trappings of Importance. And I can see that, how the focus of the poem should be not the message but the medium by which it is conveyed: and that reveals something about the way I approach a poem. I do want my poem to be meaningful, but I also want it to use image, sound, rhythm, white space to capitalize on the message.

I take my poetry seriously—I mean, I hope we all do—in that I am attracted to writing poetry that addresses issues more than poetry that avoids them. I don't know what that makes me or what it means to other poets. I guess I sort of don't care to some degree. But I'm interested in finding the line that one crosses between work that is important and work that is Very Important....because wouldn't the strongest work toe that line with its risk?