Friday, July 28, 2006

Production is Fun

My writing goes like this: I write about 2 poems a day now and then hope that one per week is any good. I've never been a big reviser, though when I do, I can obtain good results. I just keep producing, it seems easier than angsting over one particular poem. (Do I use "I" too much in my posts?) Is this the best way for me? How do other people produce works (an hour of writing a day? when inspiration strikes?) Of course, like any writer, I'm neurotic as hell, and this seems to be the best way to keep writing while staying in my right mind. What I do now is just shuffle to a page in random from a poetry collection, write down the first words I see, and put them as my title. Then I write my poem. That way, the subject comes from outside me, and I don't have to worry about what to write about. What I'm reading right now: A.R. Ammons, Selected Poems, David Lehman, Editor; and The Oblivion Ha Ha by James Tate. Going to see Of Montreal on Saturday. I can't wait, even if it's in a crummy venue. They kicked ass on a tour I saw them on a few years ago.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gabriel Gudding

Check out this blog by Gabriel Gudding; he seems super smart on poetry theory and teaching. I just bought his book, "A Defense of Poetry," a week ago, and though I enjoy some of the vulgar humor, some of it still seems too opaque to me. I don't get the title poem at all, other than it seems like some parody of Zufosky or language poetry. Still, I think once I settle down and concentrate, I'm going to enjoy it. Here's a link to him reading some poetry. He has a book coming out in Dalkey Archive in 2008 that sounds cool, a travelogue of poetry and non-fiction about ravelling the highways. Dalkey Archive is the best press ever; check them out at

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Man, I have not read enough poetry. Embarrassing admission: I just came to know John Berryman's work in the last year. I went through grad school in English and didn't read one of the 20th Century's greats. Too much lit crit theory, I guess, or the wrong classes? I was into fiction writing at the time, so I took a lot of novel and short story lit courses. I'm just afraid that I'm being incredibly derivative and don't know it because I haven't read stuff. Or, if I try to talk to a "real poet" about writing poetry, like if I e-mailed Bill Knott, I would show my complete ignorance about poets/writers/art/music. At times I just say, what the fuck, I don't care. I'm doing o.k. with the tools I have, and I know how to do what I do. But there's always the nagging feeling I'm under-educated in some way. Probably this is a common feeling; there's too much too read and too little time. I also need to have a life, by the way.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Joe Wenderoth Essays

What I've been reading: The Holy Spirit of Life by Joe Wenderoth. He reminds me of a more controlled Harmony Korine, who wrote a book of outrageous and bizarre pieces a few years ago and directed "Gummo," a film I like about the underbelly of Ohio suburban life. In Wenderoth's book for example, he has a prose poem about Jesus having an orgy with the disciples, which was taken then rejected for publication by a literary journal (doing an issue on irreverence). I bet I could do these hipster kind of essays, bizarre takes on pop culture phenomena. But so far, all I seem to be able to do is write poetry. And anyway, do we need more of this stuff, even if it's done well, like Wenderoth's book? Maybe that's part of our problem -- too many hipster intellectuals talking about pop culture instead of issues that "matter," although we're all pretty much doomed, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Levi's Commerical

Have you seen that Levi's commercial where a guy stomps a thief (who's running from police) because the thief stole his jeans? Did you check out the amazing looking girl in her underwear who's in his apartment with him, watching the police chase and her boyfriend's capture of the thief? She may be the hottest woman of all time. I want to write a poem about that! I think it plays to male vanity in a lot of ways: 1) the guy's tough enough to catch a bad guy, but he's also "stylish" by wearing these jeans 2) it confirms that he's an Alpha, good enough to have this type of girlfriend (and wearing Levi's does, too) and 3) it appeals to a vision of masculinity that's in vogue now -- sensitive enough to be at home with his girl watching TV, but tough enough to kick someone's ass if need be. A macho metrosexual, sort of. And he's tough in the service of "metrosexual" values -- style, domesticity, etc. O.K., now to buy some Levi's.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Howl (How!)

There's been some articles about "Howl" and its effect on poetry and society. I think it's obvious that "Howl" did influence many poets to open themselves up stylistically and in subject matter. It represented a changing of the guard in poetry, and it also was part of the trend where a work of literature became more known for its "celebrity," such as the trial surrounding it, than the actual work itself. But society? I don't think as much. "Howl" was a symptom, not a cause, of changes in society that led to movements that flowered during the 60s. With U.S. on top economically (meaning more kids going to college, more room and wealth for liberalism to grow), and technological breakthroughs such as the pill and TV, it was only a matter of time that stuff like free love, women's rights, etc. would come about. "Howl" and the Beats were just reactions to events that was sweeping everything forward. But now, in these times, now that pop culture has swallowed everything whole, it's impossible to find a way to make an impact even just culturally with literature. Even rap, a form of poetry, has now had its radicalism tamed by big record companies. Outrage, political or otherwise, is just another TV show or Internet video. Fifteen minutes later and on to the next sensation. The real key to me seems to be to foster a community, groups of people who unite with common interests. But that can be a double edged sword; and what's the difference between Star Trek fan clubs and poetry communities to the general public, anyway? Maybe not as much as we'd like to think.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


"Waiting" is a word that shows up in my poetry a lot. This was pointed out to me by my friend and colleague, Todd "John Denver" Boss. (By the way, check out his latest poems in "Poetry," I'm not kidding, they're good). I have stopped myself from using that word in poems I'm writing now, but I guess I should explore it a bit more, too. Why "waiting"? Because my dad was always late to pick me up, from soccer practice, school, etc. That's why I'm so anal about being on time now. Additionally, I used to work for the military, where "hurry up and wait" was the rule, and my dad was military. I also feel like I'm waiting for things in my life to happen sometimes -- waiting for a girl to call, waiting for submissions to come back, waiting for conferences, etc. We're all in one big waiting room, and death is going to call our name eventually. Yes, maybe I should title a new poem "Waiting."

Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm Still Alive (Barely)

Man, thank you Sandra for linking me up to your great blog. I need to put a link to yours, I know. Well, what have I been thinking about poetry-wise? Mostly about how my surrealistic style is basically the establishment style of poetry. I mean, John Ashberry, weirdo, surrealist. James Tate interviewed in The Paris Review. But mostly, the whole culture is tuned into odd ball stuff and dreams; watch any commerical and the rapid cuts, the weird juxtapositions, all surrealist style. So, in order to create something new, against the negative ideas/actions/expectations of our world (Iraq War anyone?), do we go back to formalism, earnestness, etc? David Foster Wallace in his essay on TV and postmodernism stated that we needed new "earnest" writers, unafraid to look at emotion and problems, not caring if they're accused of being corny or un-hip. But isn't that idea already co-opted too? Look at a TV show like "Seventh Heaven" or the Christian music/book industry. Sincerity always carries with it the idea of The Truth, authority, which I'm usually against; there are lots of meanings in this world. Is it possible to be sincere, to really mean things, without it seeming like a pose or naive? What would a true rebellion against our systemn (its culture, language, and images) look like in poetry?