Sunday, October 28, 2007


A small milestone today: normally I write most of the first drafts of poems in a small moleskin notebook (I always carry one around, something I learned from my friend and collaborator on The Alphabet of the Trees poet Christian McEwen--though I'm not sure she carries a moleskin--it's just the idea of always having a notebook handy). I've found what this has meant is that I write most of my poems someplace else and not in my study. In my study is where I revise, it's almost as though I need (or like) multiple places for beginning and then a central place for working to make the poems better and better.

So there are usually two notebooks that are active at once: the notebook I'm writing in and the notebook I'm writing from. I like to have that distance from the first version to the one I'm going to start revising. Mostly this is to make sure I think the poem is still worth working on. At any rate, as of today, I only have one notebook, the one I'm writing in because in a big push this weekend I finished typing and printing the poems from the notebook I started on 15 February 2007 and finished on 14 June 2007. Which means a nice pile of poems to begin seriously revising over the next weeks. Which is something I'm excited about because revision is something I really like (I'd say love but it's also sometimes so frustrating, but I suppose so is love). I have to say that when I had a residency at VCCA last March (I was on leave last semester) I got a chance to revise with an intensity I'd never had because I arrived with a over one hundred poems. Some I realized pretty quickly I didn't want to work on, but most I did. So for eight, nine, ten hours a day, that was all I did, revise, revise revise (of course I also worked on Poet in New York, sometimes talking with Pablo three or four times a day)., I might have started ten or fifteen new poems the whole time there. It was just working and re-working. What emerged was my Celia Cruz fue la voz tropical manuscript, which I continue to revise even as I'm working on new poems.

So the milestone is the retirement of this notebook, all these new poems to think about. The current moleskin I probably won't finish it for another month, maybe two (this has been a hard working semester) and it's unlikely I'll even begin typing out any poems that are in there until then.

I like when things like this happen, when I feel like I've accomplished something, even as I'm still in the middle of it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

APR is out but I haven't seen it

Found out in a backhanded way that the new APR with the four Lorca translations is out. Whimsy reported it to Bemshaw Swings (jonathan mayhew's blog). Wouldn't mind if they'd send them to the contributors and subscribers at the same time. Nice to know it's out there though.

The day has gone from rain to sun and I've been sitting indoors listening to cumbia and writing/revising.

Friday, October 26, 2007

La muerte hoy da presencia a la vida ayer

A lot happening this past week:

Yesterday there was a nice exhibit of paintings by Lang students on the Skybridge at Lang who had gone to Sri Lanka with Pamela Lawton as part of Teaching and Making Art Everywhere/Sri Lanka, a good crowd, Sri Lankan food. This is a part of the educational partnership that Lang has with Making Art Everywhere, which I'm on the board of, and which should be expanding its work beyond Sri Lanka in the coming year or so (thinking about Nepal).

The night before Jeff Wright, who I haven't seen since the Cover magazine days (ten years or so ago?), when I was a Contributing Writer, invited me to a reading he was giving with a few other people at the Education Alliance in Chinatown. It was a small setting, small library and the readers got the other people in the room involved by having us read from their work, round robin, all good fun.

Today, broadsides that Ryan Burkhardt did of mine and Pablo Medina's translation of Lorca's Waltz in the Branches arrived, very pretty and simple. It's one of the poems the Florida Review is publishing. The broadside is in an edition of 100 so I have a lot of signing to do.

New poem today, inspired by the line from Fuentes "La muerte hoy da presencia a la vida ayer." Poem had nothing to do with the lines, except that it got me thinking about the present and the future in this way that made sense to me and was also a little frightening.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Interesting teaching day--reading Lorca in conjunction with O'Hara, Bishop, Rukeyser, Corso and Crane. The latter is obvious, but it's interesting to see how O'Hara and Bishop can be like Lorca in their rivers of words but with such different intensities, tonalities.

Hemi-synch on the ipod is the ticket for the train--instead of music replacing subway, surf took away subway. Completely unexpected and very welcome.

The new Subtropics (University of Florida) has two of the Lorca translations (Dawn and City Without Sleep).

Have actually in the last two days received two fan letters. Is this a silly thing to put on a blog?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

odd day

I'm told that people who start blogs often don't make it past the second day. So here I am on day three.

A strange one, reading lots of student writing on nyc, responses to Grand Central and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, some very good.

Watched the football Giants win, which is what's left for a New York fan in this moment.

A quick open to the 75-2005 Creeley randomly finds these lines:

The stars stay up there where they first were.
We have changed but they seem as ever.

Sometimes I don't think I've changed enough. Sometimes I'm glad of it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

20 October 2007

Day two of blogging, what does one say--worked/revised two poems (measuring, power play--still need some work) but happy with them--it's a funny thing to write about the poems without showing them but if they're not ready? And since what they're about is themselves (one is about travel? about understanding and not understanding? the other is about how to see those who one doesn't want to be affected by as powerless?).

Long walk with Jesse and Cannonball, Jesse helping out because I think I bruised or broke some ribs a week or so ago and they really hurt if I exert myself (a sneeze when we got back doing me in).

Also wrote to Jonathan Mayhew jonathanmayhew's blog because he sent me his chapter on Koch and Lorca and it has some very good work in it. It reminded me of the work that Pablo Medina is right now doing on Octavio Paz, Paz's idea of the problem with North American poetry being that it lacks a certain quality due to the loss of (the eradication of) Native American culture. Williams and Crane, I think, try to do something about this, but it does suggest why North American poetry owes so much to European poetry (despite Whitman?) and why there's a different kind of rootedness (secretas raices, as Paz puts it) in Latin American poetry, though less so in places like Argentina which has a similar problem with Native American culture.

Here is something that makes me happy (it arrived yesterday):

Friday, October 19, 2007

First post 19 October 2007

So this is my entry into the world of having my own blog and I'm holping that after a while there are lots of responses and lots of comments on what I have to say, what other people have to say.

I admit to feeling a little out of my element, but having started this, it's something I'm going to try and make work.

So a couple of things to start:

I expect in the coming days I'll be writing about what it says on the top of the blog: poetry, teaching, New York, politics, and everything else that actually matters.

So start today by advising whoever reads this to see the new issue of Teachers & Writers magazine ( which includes a series of tributes to Grace Paley (okay, I wrote one). The one by Herb Kohl seems particularly moving because it gets at what Grace stood for, that sense not of what it means to be a writer in some isolated way but of what it means to be a writer in the world.