Friday, December 28, 2007

website under construction thanks to Jesse

Today Jesse and I set out on the work of the website. He's really great at this. Asks me all kinds of questions about what I want and what I might need. Sometimes I just don't know the answer but he's patient and smart about this kind of thing, and he has ideas about design that I really like. I've asked him to experiment with things, and he's done some things I'm not sure of, he is really good at thinking up new ideas and is good at showing me the different possibilities and doesn't make me feel like an idiot for not knowing all the stuff that goes into this kind of work. It impresses and humbles me a little--here he is, at the age of 14, and he can do web design like a pro (and I mean pro--I've been looking at lots of web designs and they look so trite and thoughtless next to what he wants to do for me). My problem is, I didn't know how much work I'd have to do in the process!

There are a million ways in which I'm grateful to him as a son; he's a wonderful writer, artist, filmmaker, photographer, a good guy to go out and talk with about almost anything in the world. But mostly what's special about Jesse is that he's a real mensch. I'm not sure he knows it, but he is and I feel blessed.

At any rate, for the moment, will re-direct you to this blog. But one day (soon) it will be its own site and you will be able to pick up the blog from there. There will be some similarities (the website will have poems and links), but photos and just more--I'm excited about the whole thing.

Thanks to Jesse. Abrazos a todos.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

post Christmas, a poem, and a Moleskin for Mark

It was a fine and pleasant Christmas, morning of stocking presents, champagne, salmon, olives, nuts,and so on (for photos, go to the BOTL Triangle link on the right). Reading out loud from Ron Padgett's new book, then giving David Shapiro some equal time from his Selected (these from the pile of books by friends that sits on the coffee table.

Then the goose (stuffed with fresh sage, tarragon and rosemary) went into the oven, Karen came over, more stocking presents, more champagne (oysters this time), and lots of salads, breads. Presents! Too many to speak of but one that interested me in particular since the subject of of moleskins has previously been on this blog. Jesse gave me a moleskin New York, which in some sense is a moleskin for someone visiting NY, a way to keep a journal of one's trip. It has maps, places to record where you ate, where you shopped, what were exciting encounters and when. and so on. So what I've decided to do is go on that trip, to be a tourist in NY for a while, not in the style, though of the tourist who who goes to the Statue of Liberty (which is a fine thing to do), but in the manner of a poet in NY, that is to see the city in a new way, to like Lorca, think of "New York in the poet." It will be interesting, I foresee a constant shifting of moleskins, from the one I use for writing to suddenly taking out my New York one to record a place I want to remember (what is the name of that wonderful tapas restaurant on 9th Street? What did I stop and read in Madison Square Park?). So it will have a sense of journey, giving me a place to re-see and re-think a place most familiar.

(I even made a small copy of the cover of Poet in New York , which today I pasted and laminated to the cover).

Then dinner, of course, goose and wild rice, roasted vegetables (zucchini, squash, onions, garlic, turnips). Katherine made a cranberry sauce, Karen cabbage with chestnuts. A nice rasteau (heavier than a rhone wine, just right for goose), chocolate and fresh fruit for dessert. Then the happy collapse of a meal well-done.

A poem from Celia Cruz:


I don’t want to translate
it’s too pretty as itself
in the market in southern Mexico
in the warmth and crowd
was an old woman
selling so many kinds of flowers
yellow, white, purple, orange,
red, blue, scarlet, violet, black
surrounded by them
she sat
maybe the way
the older Mary would have
beatific, the grief and sadness
of her life drained away
by time and hope
grief and sadness replaced
by an infinity of flowers
whose names she made up
perritos (puppies)
conejos (rabbits)
and alegria mia (my happiness)
depending on the day
ay joven, she said to me once
and I wonder who she saw
when she spoke
ay joven (youth), she said
ten cuidado (beware)
pointing out at the world
beyond this small town
with its pottery, its clothing, its food
Mary was transported to heaven
one day
to sit with her son at the throne
she sat on earth
in the market
one day
black and gold huipile (dress)
azucena in her hand
and waited

Friday, December 21, 2007

Interesting discussion on translation and a poem

There's been an interesting discussion on translation on the Bemshaw Swing blog. It's linked to the right so check it out.

Here's a poem from Celia Cruz:

neutral location

what you
make this
city you
make half
in love
half in
its music
is beating
out windows
out doors
its trucks
its trains
its cars
from bridge
to bridge
from street
to street
from one
more body
we take
up space
that isn’t
really there
that really
hasn’t been
for ages
our time
tom toms
and streaks
by it
shakes, thunders
glistens, parades
you wonder
what the
city you’ve
made is
made of
language you
think maybe
that nothing
more you
wonder how
to explain
to someone
far away
how to
get there

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holding Poet in New York in my hands

Just came from Grove where they gave me copies of the book which, yes, is really now out. Review copies started going out today, as did copies to the stores but many won't get it to their shelves until after Christmas. Some of the smaller independent stores may. Anyone on my review list, look for a copy. If you are not on my review list and can actually write a review, let me know as soon as possible.

The book really looks good. I'm one of those who usually hates how his work looks--maybe this feels different, maybe since it's Lorca (through Medina and Statman) that I can feel this way. Still, the old fear that having done something won't change the world. And yet, to feel a small part of literary history--for the moment, I'll take it.

As for events, I'll try and do some updates but the old list still holds (starting with the New School party 1/31, the first Thursday of AWP--I'll be doing a big e-mailing of the e-card in early January). We're taping a 10 minute segment for City Voices for PBS on January 18 (an all day affair) but I don't know when it will air. Info to follow. Also, let your West Coast friends know about the February appearances in SF and Santa Cruz. And St Marks here in New York on 3/26!

The semester is over. Which means a little rest and a chance to post more in the days ahead and in the next semester when my teaching load is considerably lighter (fewer students). It also means that my website should be up in the next three or four weeks (Jesse's help is critical here).

Have been writing a lot lately and may post some of the new poems for comments, though I think I'm interested still in hearing responses to the Celia Cruz poems.

A note from Lynn Chandhok, who gave a wonderful reading last week in Brooklyn:

• The poem "Muharrum at 203 Jor Bagh" will be the featured poem this Monday, December 24 on Poetry Daily (
• I was named a runner up for the 2007 Paumanok Poetry Prize, and as part of the prize, will read at Farmingdale State University next spring.
• Seven of the poems from The View from Zero Bridge have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes.

You can go to her website by clicking the link to the right.

More soon.

Abrazos a todo!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

So it was that kind of week

Really it was. A lot of work (teaching) and a lot of work all weekend (student work) and so now I'm finally getting to the blog and I'm almost too tired to type (and it's only 7:30 on a Sunday night). But a few things:

--went to Cue yesterday for the Ashbery/Padgett book signing. John translated Reverdy's Haunted House and Ron Reverdy's Prose Poems, which was the poet's first book. Both look very good, nice work by Brooklyn Rail Black Square Editions. Had a chance to chat for a while with Anne Waldman, Trevor Winkfield, and Eugene Ritchie (who I hadn't seen in a very long time) for a little while.

--Publishers Weekly review of Poet in New York is out and okay. They called it "a worthy new version of a 20th-century classic." What's too bad is that the review has some major errors in it (a misreading of the Ode to Whitman for example that kind of undermines the reviewer and thus the review). Sigh.

--The New Yorker got it right when it mentioned Ron's new book of poems. The gods are sometimes on our side.

--There are some beautiful photos on BOTL Triangle and Sunny Side Up (see links) that are worth a good long look.

--The February book trip seems to be finalized. February 21 at City Lights in SF, February 22 at New Cadences in Santa Cruz. We'll also be taping for the Poetry Show on the 22nd for a broadcast on the 24th.

Closing with a poem from Celia Cruz


night extends itself
dark and blue
the piss smell of boxwood in the air
I held your hand
as tightly as I could
not out of fear or love
though both were there
but the comfort
that I could
you would let me
and not say
and walk away
I remember how much
I couldn’t say
I’m sorry
I couldn’t say
I remember how
under bridges
there are boats
that move jewel-like
over water
for a minute I wanted you
as completely and as fully
as wanting can be
not flood or storm but web
for a minute
I was afraid
this wouldn’t happen again
maybe I didn’t mean it
or maybe because it was real
or maybe
after a minute
you weren’t there

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fall turns into winter, another poem

A nice couple of days--a good mountain bike ride with Jesse (go to to see some of his photos, Katherine and I had dinner with Pablo Beth, Aristides and Maria at Pablo's and Beth's with much toasting of Poet in New York. Review copies should go out next week, as will copies to stores. So go in to your local bookstore and start asking (support the local stores)! Or just order on Amazon and get a discount (support your pocket book).

I'm looking forward to the semester winding down. I love my classes, the students, but it's been a long one and I'm looking forward to the break when my focus will be on preparing for two new courses in the spring, Advanced Poetry and Spanish Surrealism.

Another poem from Celia Cruz

from the dead

an inconclusive silence
the tyranny of uncertainty
we live with the knowledge
of our knowledgelessness
and so we place flowers and keepsakes and stones
on graves, at candles, at trees
thin clichés take over thought:
the horseless rider
the sword and outworn sheath
belief and hope
that on the wind will come these voices
which call us to light, a beckoning
the termination of suffering into void
the pause in cycles
the dead waiting in Homeric clusters
for their chance
to drink from Lethe
into forgetfulness
and toward their chosen new life
I wish them not to be reborn
I wish for better than that
some final party
at the end of grief
Hey, says a soul you know
have a drink.
Someone else tells a joke
an old one you’ve always known
and it’s funnier than ever
laughter fills us
an old joke and laughing for eternity
sometimes life was like this
but enough?
over here
another old friend
shows photos
remember this?
you do
an album full
of everything you ever did
that made you happy