poetry/fiction/lit type stuff

Muse Baiting

I’m still, and will likely forever be, puzzled about the “why” of making art. Observing art, participating in another’s work, seems much more clear, an act of co-creation that pierces human isolation, connects us the way a good conversation or fight or hug or love-making session does… but making art is not the same experience, at least not for me, it’s more like broadcasting bits of experience for someone else to converse with, shooting radio waves into space. In a social and historical sense, I guess an artist is in conversation with both their predecessors and their peers, though I do think too much contemporary art of all kinds is focused on the current chatter, the easily accessed chorus of voices inching toward and away from a representative style–this is a very broad generalization, I know, and I am thinking more of poetry and prose and music than I am of plastic arts, but anyway–too much cloud thought and decision by committee and not enough listening for voices in the wind, or speaking from musty corners of history. I suspect it has been the case for some time, at least for the last few centuries in Western art, that for the great bulk of artists the salon is…
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Good Book Lovin’…

As is the case with many folks who have acquired the reading habit, I end up reading a lot of books that don’t move me, but aren’t awful enough to put down. Very few are awful enough to put down, come to think of it. I almost put down the vampire book Guillermo Del Toro wrote with Chuck Hogan, as the writing was cliched and stale enough to depress whatever might have been scary about the story. Here, I’ll flip open the book at random and transcribe a bit: Half-covered now by the new (and otherwise invisible) moon, the still bright sky began to take on a dusky cast: like a sunset, only without any warming of the light. At ground level, the sunlight appeared pale, as though filtered or diffused. Shadows lost their certainty. The world, it seemed, had been put on a dimmer. But I finished it, because the vampires were actually scarily conceived, and my guess, being a Del Toro fan, is that he storyboarded and conceived the whole thing and then Hogan attempted to destroy the project by actually writing the book. I also finished it because that is the nature of my habit, and as I said, only a…
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Book Launches

I’m having book launch parties in Feb, one in Rochester at Lux Lounge on Feb 12, one in Buffalo at Sugar City on Feb 19th. I will do my best to make them fun…. here’s a poem from the new book, originally published in the Wisconsin Review: Animal Logic and the Hub The flight to Pittsburgh was oversold and a voice on the loudspeaker begged for volunteers, for the flexibly scheduled, for heroes: this is how we live. We walk the gangplank to a winged metal tube and are flung to distant cities, we disembark and wonder at the mess we’ve made of our children, our parents, our homes, our gods, our health; we make do and cringe at the presence of other people, we preen and draw them toward us, we puff up our chests and laugh too loudly, we recoil when another claims us as part of some not-so-royal “we.” As it is and always has been, but further bent into our selves, as it is and will someday cease to be, bundles of nerve and blood embroidered with the sound of pictures, the color of word, each of us ready, at an instant, to don the cape…
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Pragmatic particles

Spam is odd, there are patterns lurking in the bizarre stuff that gets posted for approval to this site… but I haven’t the time or the stomach to pick through it just now, maybe later. But, stuff like this: “I am truthful and attached to my friends” in a spam post that leads, presumably, to a porn site (livegirlwebcams). Are these qualities that consumers of porn now find significant? Weird. I must admit to a similar feeling of disconnectedness when reading much contemporary poetry; I suppose the act of reading contemporary poetry at all implies a kind of disconnectedness–shouldn’t I be watching Dancing With The Stars instead?–but I write poetry, and while learning about what that meant was told, time and again, to stay abreast of what other poets were doing, presumably so I could adjust my style to fit or to oppose whatever mode was dominant. I’m not sure that’s such god advice, in retrospect, if only because it can cause a poet to ignore so much of what has already been written in favor of a crowd-sourcing of poetics. Arguments against plumbing the (very deep and very wide) archive of poetry, both Western and otherwise, might include protestation that poetic value was determined by a set of elites…
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Whitman?

I guess many people knew this already, but I just read that Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, thought that he was following the orders of Walt Whitman to “bring down kings” when he killed the Archduke… and started WWI. And when one considers how many of the conflicts fought during the 20th century grew either directly or indirectly out of WWI, well, damn. I guess Auden was wrong about poetry changing nothing. The most recent chunk of CD collection I listened to was particularly fine: 331) Aimee Mann: Bachelor No. 2; 332) Melvins: Singles 1-12; 333) Butthole Surfers: Psychic…Powerless…Another Man’s Sac; 334) Mavis Staples: Have a Little Faith; 335) Tortoise: Standards; 336) Sigur Ros: Agaetis Byrjun; 337) Neil Diamond: 12 Songs; 338) Ronnie Lane with Slim Chance: You Can Never Tell. Please order my new book! It’s cheap if you pre-order, not as cheap if you wait! I’ve pre-sold 47 copies so far, and am trying to reach 100. Here are a few recent poems by me, if you like them, order a book! : @ Shady Side Review .

Signifying nothing

Home is So Sad Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, Shaped to the comfort of the last to go As if to win them back. Instead, bereft Of anyone to please, it withers so, Having no heart to put aside the theft And turn again to what it started as, A joyous shot at how things ought to be, Long fallen wide. You can see how it was: Look at the pictures and the cutlery. The music in the piano stool. That vase. —Philip Larkin 323) Al Green: I’m Still in Love With You (desert island album #1); 324) Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On (DI album #9); 325) Roxy Music: Avalon (Maybe I need a bigger island); 326) Kate Bush: Hounds of Love (wow, this was a great stretch of CDs); 327) Van Morrison: Beautiful Vision; 328) Ace of Base: The Sign (just bought for .50 @ a garage sale. Worth all .50, not more); 328) Los Lobos: The Ride; 329) Armand Van Helden: Cha Cha (yikes, who gave me the maxi-single!); 330) Shalabi Effect: The Trial of St Orange (interesting improv).

Pepper

Just finished Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper, sobbing at the end, sitting at the kitchen table with a can of beer at 2 am. An amazingly compelling book, and one I found out about by reading The Professor, which was good, though a few of the essays collapsed under the weight of their stylistic conceits, and all of them bogged down at points because of Castle’s obsessive name dropping–imagine a more biting David Sedaris mixed with Dennis Miller at his most obscure. It seems a condition common to many academics, particularly in the humanities: the needs to constantly prove how smart you are, and what form your intelligence takes; it makes sense, I guess, given the jobs folks like Castle hold, in gladiatorial pits stained with the guts of the less erudite… except that they’re not really gladiatorial at all, just like CEOs who fancy themselves hard hearted warriors of the bottom line–they aren’t warriors, and nor are academics. Which is not to discount the idea of intellectual or spiritual or emotional battle-as-performance, of course. Art Pepper was a warrior whenever he played his horn. But the overwhelming majority of academics (and other public intellectuals) and CEOs who fancy themselves gladiatorial…
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And more-azzolla…

Finished listening to the Astor Piazzolla 10 CD box set, then went back, put the CDs out of order, and listened to the whole thing again. The lyricism he gets out of a bandoneon is simply incredible, of course, but the second time through, I listened more to the other players, some of whom are listed on the back of the CDs, some not. Lots of swooping, sharp violins, strangely reverbed guitars, very sparse percussion that veers, like all the pieces here, from primal to ultra-sophisticated in the space of a few bars. If I didn’t have to get on with the rest of these CDs, I might listen again! Please order my new book! It’s cheap! And if enough people pre-order, it might get released sooner than late December… Also, I have started a net label: fubar bundy presents. Please go have some free music, though we’ve only one release up yet.

Commerce!

I have a new book of poetry set for publication in December, from the Main Street Rag Publishing Co. If the release date is in December, why am I writing this now, in August? Because if 100 people pre-order the book, at a discount, it will be released earlier. I will keep a running tally of how many are ordered, so please go to one of the above links and order one! With the discount, the book is only $9, which is less than a pack of cigarettes here in NY…. and now, more CDs, as I continue listening to all the ones I own: 297) The Pixies: Surfer Rosa There was a period of 9 months or so, in the late 1980’s, when you couldn’t step into a bar, party, or friend’s car without hearing this CD. Classic rock in a blender, noise rock with the rough edges sanded off… and poppy as hell. Still great fun. 298) The Breeders: Last Splash Odd that this one was right next to Surfer Rosa, bit of synchronicity there… it also seems odd that this came out in 1993, and Surfer Rosa in 1988, were the Pixies really only around for 5…
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