The Flower of My Secret

Over the holiday weekend I was pleased to find Netflix sent me an Almodóvar film from my queue. The Flower of My Secret tells the story of Leo, a highly successful romance novelist with a nom de plume that protects her from worshipping fans. Leo's husband Paco is serving in the army in Brussels and they never get to see each other. It has turned Leo's usually "pink" world "black"—her romance novels, which once flowed quickly and easily, have turned into books like her recent manuscript The Cold-Storage Room, about a wife who kills here husband and hides him in a neighbor's restaurant freezer after she discovers he committed incest with their daughter.

The film begins with a simulation run by the National Transplant Organization. A woman is being told her teenaged son has been killed in a traffic accident and has no brain activity. Would she like to donate his organs to save lives?

If these sound familiar, it's because the first aspect is the plot of Almodóvar's most recent film Volver and the second, the basis of the film All About My Mother.

It's in Secret that we first meet Manuela, the grieving heroine of Mother, in a prescient setting: signing away her dead son's organs. The simulated grief in Secret becomes the real, unbearable, unlivable grief of Mother and even Marisa Pareides, who plays Leo in Secret, appears in the later film as world-weary, love-lorn actress Huma Rojo.

And the story of Volver has uneasy coincidences with Secret too. In Volver,, the film opens with heroine Raimunda cleaning off the grave of her dead mother in their remote village. In Secret, Leo's mother begs to return to the village where the family once lived, and by the end of the film, she does, taking Leo with her. These sets are the sets of Volver, this house, this courtyard, this village. It's the setting of Leo's unpublished novel.

Like the other films, the color red is crucial in The Flower of My Secret. Here, it is a marker of passion, both artistic and romantic, and probably also insanity to some degree as Leo's grief over losing her husband envelops her.

It's why Almodóvar is a genius, these nested films butting up against each other in his oeuvre in an odd, surprising way. It gives me a new concept of body of work. His work is a single body.


Just Shoot Me

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes to Arden and the BF...they are both recouperating well!

I wanted to show you this:

and tell you to go read it right now. Hot poems.



Arden was attacked last night.

My boyfriend was walking her when one of his neighbor's dogs—a vicious, snarling thing—started beating against the security door of his neighbor's house. This dog has done this every time we've walked by since he moved in. The door wasn't latched properly and after a few pushes, it sprung open and the dog made a beeline for Arden.

It bit her four times and, in the process of saving her, my boyfriend was also bitten. The dog attacked them for about a minute before the neighbor came running out, hysterical, and tackled the dog. "I'm so sorry," she kept saying, "It's my son's dog and I'm taking care of it while he's in prison. I don't have any money."

My boyfriend wrapped Arden up in a towel and called me in class to tell me what had happened. I left and we raced to the animal hospital.

She has one puncture on her back foot that bled so much it looked like her foot had been chewed off. Her thigh has an enormous double puncture wound in it that required staples to close, and she has two shallow bites on her flank.

The vet says my boyfriend's quick thinking saved her. He grabbed the leash and held it up as high as he could so that her neck wasn't exposed to the attacking dog.

Arden can't walk today and is uncharacteristically quiet. I've got her on the couch next to me, wrapped in a blanket to keep her warm, and she's sleeping and resting. I'll be spending the day with her to help her recuperate.

I am completely and totally outraged that someone has a dog that would do this. It's irresponsibile to even treat a dog so poorly that it reacts this way, and it's even more irresopnsible to have a dog like that, not muzzle it, and then leave your goddamn door unlatched!


Keeping up with the Dixons.

The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon is now for sale.

The chapbook explores the story of the mysterious disappearance of Maribel Dixon in November 1934. Evidence shows she may have been involved in a dangerous experiment led by her husband, Edward Dixon, a rogue physicist with either extreme delusions or magnificent visions of a strange, otherwordly dimension...

You can buy it from me for $8 or from New Michigan Press for $10.


Bundle it with Living Things and get both collections for only $12! This deal won't last long as I am almost out of Living Things.



Some of you will remember my shoe sojourn from a while back.

I'm pleased to update you with some significant movement in the shoe area of my life. I have been without new black dress shoes since I graduated from college in 1999. The old pair were getting, well, old. Out of style. Etc.

So I went to the Kenneth Cole outlet and found, yes, immediately, a pair of black Flex-a-bits right there on the shelf...and a pair in my size!

I bought them immediately, and for cheap. They are wonderful, as good as my other KCs, which have only gotten better with time.

I feel complete, shoe-wise, at least.


A rare peek behind the curtain.

Kinemapoetics will be dark this week as I fly to Michigan tomorrow to say goodbye to my grandmother before she dies, and then bury her.

Yet another knot in an otherwise tangled year.


Ask Arden Anything

Arden, starring in her one-woman production of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

Dear Arden,

I recently moved into a new townhome. I have neighbors above me and on either side of me, and I can often hear noise coming from other units, which I mostly just try to ignore. Yesterday I was installing some shelves in my apartment and my neighbor came over immediately to complain about the noise. Then, while sweeping, my broom hit the baseboard and my neighbor pounded on the wall. I was so angry! I feel like I'm trying to be a good neighbor by acknowledging that the situation is less than perfect, but my neighbors are unreasonable.

What should I do?

Too-Near Townhomes

Dear TNT,

Dogs are pack animals and we're used to living in close quarters the way you describe, but I can understand your neighbor's frustration. My owner bought a crate for me to stay in while he's at work when I was just a puppy, and I feel now that the crate is my little "home" in my owner's home. I don't like it when people move it or go in it or anything; it's mine. Sometimes when people (or, let's say, visiting cats, for example) go near it, I snap and bark. It's not nice, but I can't help it.

Maybe your neighbors are just being a little territorial. Dogs always know whose territory is whose because we pee on everything, and our pee has little markers in it that we understand. You might try peeing around your townhome to see if your neighbor picks up on your scent and gives you a little more leeway in terms of noise.

You might also try a good snap now and then. When you think your neighbor is being unreasonable, a growl or bark can put them back in their place. This is generally how I choose to deal with annoying cat-types in my own life.

Townhome living offers a lot of convenience, TNT, but you've definitely stumbled upon one of the downsides. I hope all goes well for you.


Arden answers your questions every Friday here at Kinemapoetics. Submit your question by emailing chasjens ATyahooDOTcom with the subject line "Ask Arden Anything."



Anti-, a new poetry journal set to launch in early 2008, seeks submissions.

Send three to seven original, unpublished poems as an attachment (Word .doc or RTF) to antipoetry(at)anti-poetry.com (replace (at) with @) Either in the file or the body of the e-mail, include a cover letter with your name, contact information, a contributor-note biography of 50 words or less, and a statement of 50 words or less on what you're against in poetry. This statement can be general or specific to your submitted poems, serious or tongue in cheek, broad or ridiculously minute. It needs to be something you want to appear on your page if we accept your work.

Anti- is not aesthetically affiliated with Nicanor Parra's school of antipoetry, though the editor does share his skepticism about the supposed mystical powers of poetry. Anti- primarily stands against the confinement of poetry to too-small boxes. Anti- wants to provide a voice for a wide range of styles and ideas in the same space, so these different kinds of poets and poems can either fight it out or learn to coexist. We're also interested in work that blurs boundaries: between verse and prose, traditional and cutting edge, humorous and scary, narrative and lyric and linguistically fragmented.

For full information and guidelines, visit http://anti-poetry.com/


Going Nuts

This is your brain; this is your brain on too much work!

Things have been nutty around the office lately: on top of Tony Kushner's fabulous visit, I had a brief day off and then was asked to attend a required conference about ASU's vision as the model for the New American University.

It's an exciting proposition, redesigning the way higher education is conceptualized, delivered, and evaluated. I'm a strong proponent of interdisciplinary education (or what they call "transdisciplinary" here).

Although I love ASU, I will never love it more than the U of M!


Strange Bedfellows

Last night I was in a room with Tony Kushner and Charles Barkley.


Ask Arden Anything

Dear Arden,

Out of curiousity, a lot of dogs seem to appear to enjoy watching the television. I have three questions regarding this for you (especially regarding the movie/ t.v. watching human you reside with): What are your favorite movies or t.v. shows and why? Also, are there any shows/ movies your "owner" watches that you like/dislike? How does a dog's general lack of allowed input on what is watched (due to their position in life) make you feel?

Thanks for your thoughts!
Sittin' with my dog watchin' The Fountain

Dear Sittin'

My owner likes to tell me about his childhood dog Mary Kate. Mary Kate, a Westie, used to love watching television, and she used to bark at just about anything that appeared on it, especially other animals and dogs. But Mary Kate also used to bark at leaves that blew by the window, so she wasn't all that bright, if you ask me.

I do like watching TV, but mostly at my grandma's house (because there's not much else to do!). My favorite show is Colorsplash on HGTV because, as my grandma says, the host reminds me of Charlie. When I'm at home with Charlie, I don't watch as much TV because I don't like what he likes. Except I liked Veronica Mars a lot because it had that cute pit bull Backup on it. But that's a story for another time.

I'm not really into America's Next Top Model because I think I'm prettier than all those girls put together, and I think Tyra is full of bad advice. Sometimes I like to watch Ugly Betty because it's so colorful and weird. And I think Heroes is pretty boring. Mostly I'm into home decorating/renovation shows, I guess. I like a little destruction.

I don't mind not weighing in on what gets watched at home. I have my bones and my squeaky toys and that's fine. If humans had toys that squeaked, I bet none of you would waste time watching TV. Besides, wouldn't you rather get off the couch and go for a walk?? Don't you want to go outside? Outside? You wanna go outside...?


Arden answers your questions every Friday here at Kinemapoetics. Submit your question by emailing chasjens ATyahooDOTcom with the subject line "Ask Arden Anything."


Coming Very Soon...

My new chapbook will be out very soon! I think it just went to the printer. The gorgeous cover features photography by Tracy Longley-Cook, who did the cover of Living Things as well.

The chapbook explores the mysterious vanishing of Maribel Dixon, wife of physicist Edward Dixon, and his desperate attempt to find her and get her back in the 1930s, exploring the nature of love—seen and unseen—along the way.

A few of the poems were up at spork a while back.