Tuesday, September 30, 2008

long time passing

Okay, so it's been a long time since I've blogged but that doesn't mean that nothing is happening. In fact, the opposite of course. So much. Teaching: I really love the three classes I'm teaching this semester: Intermediate Poetry (new for me, and the students have done some wonderful writing, we've read Whitman, Pound, had student reports on Dickinson, Crane, Amy Lowell, tomorrow one on Eliot), Arts of Sport (again, a new one, which has allowed us to read some really good writing, Hunter Thompson, David Halberstam, Williams, Berrigan, Koch, Clampitt, Dean Young, William Rhoden's Forty Million Dollar Slaves, as well as watch the movie Glory Road; right now we're about to move from issues of race in sport to gender, which will culminate in seeing A League of Their Own, then on to case studies of various sports in the U.S.) and Spanish Surrealism (which it seems like I taught last semester but the number of students has gone from 27 to 38 and this changes how I have to think about it--tomorrow we look at the last of Poet in New York and then move on to Alberti's Sobre los Angeles).

And writing. Trying to get in four or five hours a week of poetry. Of translating. It's hard but worth the effort. The Hinojosa translations are out there (some). Go to tinhouse.com and the lost and found page and you'll see a little piece I did (which also appears in the magazine) but also has three translations. Waiting to hear back from a press on a proposal for the whole book. Cross your fingers.

Busy October:

Reading October 10 w/Pablo from Poet in New York at Teachers & Writers. Go to twc.org for more info.

Panel: October 16, ALTA convention (Minneapolis) on Poet in New York (chaired by Doug Unger)
Reading: October 17, ALTA Convention (Minneapolis) from Poet in New York 3-4.

Panel: October 29, UNLV on Poet in New York, 7:30 (check UNLV University Forum Series)
Reading: October 30, Las Vegas, from Poet in New York (will update).

November: Miami International Book Fair. Details forthcoming.

Okay, so that's the quick return to blog land. Jesse is cool, Katherine the greatest and Cannonball a woof.

Saludos y abrazos y l'shana tova.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Out of touch (but working hard) and they've finally erased the Advanced Learning Lab from the NYU Child Study Center

Since getting back from Maine, it feels like non-stop work. I've been working on "Invisible Man" though some of those poems may re-appear elsewhere and put together a proposal for an interested press for the Hinojosa translations which I hope they look on kindly (please send waves of support into the general atmosphere). It included 18 translations which I think are pretty good. I've also been working on the Guggenheim application, proposal and publications list seem done, but the auto-bio confounds me. Hard to write, since the path on the surface has been rather clear (23 years at Lang, 19 with T & W) but it has not been a seamless one and the telling is a long story filled with more mis-directions than a well-called football offense.

Been working hard too on syllabi for the fall, in particular my Arts of Sport course which is coming together nicely. I have the essays and the non-fiction stuff in order, today got at the poetry, went through a hundred or so poets and found some nice stuff, and will work out the art and music in the next few days. Some of this will be done on the road as we leave for Nimrod on Tuesday, have the Staunton (VA) Music Festival premiere of my poems/song cycle by Dennis Tobenski on the following Tuesday (19th) but I really am feeling like it's coming together. This is a course that makes me feel a little nervous because there's so much material and making the decisions about what to include and what to exclude is not fun.

So a lot to do: but an update on the old NYU Child Study Center. Yes, ALL, the Advanced Learning Lab, that experiment in pedagogy which was meant to really accomplish something and cost most of the parents at least $30,000 with no reimbursement (promised, of course by ALL and NYU Child Study Center) and which was supposed to be something special for a special group of six kids has been erased completely. Barry Ehrlich (nice guy and former director of education) is now finally listed as the director of education for the Asperger Institute, ALL has been dropped (just recently) from Candace Baugh's bio, and of course the Dana Levy bio mention of ALL was dropped the day after I blogged it. Any other former faculty seem to have also been erased (someone correct me if I'm wrong here). The tough thing is what this has done to the kids who expected to be back (and the fact that they had actually been inviting other parents/students to enroll until the last minute) and have no place to go. Of course, this could be a blessing in disguise, though I think not necessarily to those families (nor to the teachers who thought they had jobs and were summarily fired).

Bravo Harold Koplowicz, bravo Glenn Hirsch. What reasons will you give the press when they start wondering how this could have happened? Will leaks begin soon? I know you'll have something interesting to say. I wonder if those journalists will take the time to look at the actual transcript of the famous open forum which you guys conveniently edited (it's available in the complete form, do a google).



Friday, July 25, 2008

Final Words from Maine

Tonight was the lobster/steak dinner and show at the Maine Media Workshop and it did not disappoint. We saw work from a number of the artists, from the older (mid-career folks) and their documentary and multi-media work, to the younger artists, black and white photographers, screen writers, etc. The food was good fun (how can you ignore a freshly steamed Maine lobster? Fresh corn? Baked potatoes? A good white wine?). The media work we saw was, for the most part, very impressive. It was clear that these folks had worked hard over the last two weeks and I felt kind of privileged to see so much good work (okay, there was some stuff that wasn't much, but not from the youth program folks, who were quite talented). Jesse had five prints in the slide show from his group (I recognized three, thought maybe a fourth) and look forward to seeing his portfolio tomorrow. We learned tonight that his teacher, a very good photographer, Isabel Foley, lives only about ten blocks from us in Brooklyn, and I hope that means that he'll be able to get some good feedback from time to time on what he is doing.

On the whole, I think a really successful trip. Jesse did some great work, met some good people, and I think learned a lot. One of the things that Katherine and I both noticed from the dinner time and the presentation of work was that it reminded us of places like the VCCA and Byrdcliffe; in other words, it was a real artist colony even as it had this strong teaching element to it. But there was kind of mutual respect in conversation about work (even between the older artists and the younger) that impressed me. If Jesse decides he wants to return next year, I say yes! Compared to SOCAPA, well, there is no comparison so I won't bother.

For the cottage couple, I finished a new poetry manuscript Invisible Man (at least a good draft that is now an intense working period away from being done), got some good work done on Hinojosa, and also thought a lot about my teaching for the fall. Katherine did some beautiful work in water color and oil pastel and pencil, and gave her a sense of some good new ways of working. So art prospered at the sea side cottage, as did the Cannonball, who got to roam the grounds, go to the beach, play endless games of stick.

We leave tomorrow for a meandering trip down to Framingham, MA where we stay for the night before getting back to Brooklyn. Then we have some days for Katherine to be in the studio, for me to do some revision on Celia Cruz (more later), and work with Jesse on footage for his documentary of the Poet in New York tour. A lot to do and a lot more to come. But two weeks that were really quite special. And have us all moving forward.



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Report from Maine (7)

Only a few days left. Today I finished the new draft of Invisible Man and now I know it needs to sit for a while. Which is a good thing because things may be happening on the Celia Cruz front (more later on this) and so I have to go back and do some serious thinking about that. Some more revision.

Got a chance today to go up the workshop and see some of what Jesse has been doing, contact sheets abound, but he showed me some of the prints in his portfolio and they look really nice. Friday is the big show day, first a lobster and steak dinner and then a slide show. Based on what I saw today, I'm looking forward to it. I think his plan was to spend all day today and night and all of tomorrow in the darkroom. Very cool.

Katherine continues to do some beautiful work, is now using oil pastels as well as pencil and water color. Really beautiful Katherine Koch stuff--the fields of intricate color, appearance and re-appearance of form (Cannonball gets some time in pencil here).

The Hinojosa work also goes well and I think that will be my focus for the next day or so, that, fishing (went to Holsner Lake yesterday, fooled with some brook trout but it was late morning-early afternoon, got there late for dumb reasons, but tomorrow!) and a little work on the Guggenheim application.

We had dinnerout tonight (our first one since getting here, usually we've gone out for lunch and cooked dinner at the cottage). I had a seafood paella, Katherine had some salmon with Maine shrimp, a little prosecco, all very delicious at Amalfi's in Rockland.

More later but I'm beat from a long day, exhaustion and satisfaction of having finished a manuscript (while seeing the work it needs).



Monday, July 21, 2008

Report from Maine (6)

I realize our days here are slowly (too quickly) coming to an end. Friday is the day of the exhibition of the work done by the artists at the Maine Media Workshop (with a lobster dinner to follow). Saturday we leave the cottage, pick up Jesse and begin the trek back home. We'll do it in two days because I think all of us will be a little worn out.

Today was one of those full of e-mail days, then a bike ride (which included going out to the breaker point light house in Rockland), then back to the cottage, more e-mail, a talk with Pablo, lunch (Maine fried shrimp, very delicate and sweet), then some shopping and back to the cottage to revise revise revise and work on a new Hinojosa poem which I solved in the way I'm learning to solve him, which is to do what we did with Lorca; I have to work both as a poet and as a translator. It won't work any other way.

A nice talk with Colette. More on that later.

Dinner of lamb rib chops with garlic and rosemary, pasta with shitake mushrooms, fresh Maine tomatoes. A good Chianti. Now a look at the paper and then sleep.

I know I haven't posted any poems for a while--I'm so in the middle of Invisible Man it's hard to do. But those poems come along and I want to re-think some of the Celia Cruz poems. As for the Hinojosa, I'm beginning to revise the ones I've translated, little changes here and there that are beginning to make more and more sense.



Saturday, July 19, 2008

Reporting from Maine (5) Another of those days desired

Jesse decided to spend the weekend at the workshop--the photographers went to Belfast and then they were supposed to come back to the dorm and then go out to a movie. We dropped by while he was away, picked up his laundry (the work of parents, we'll return the clean clothes tomorrow) then went into Camden where we had a wonderful meal at a lobster restaurant right on the water. Back at the cottage, read the Times, played stick with Cannonball, worked on Hinojosa for about three hours and then another two or so on revisions of poems for Invisible Man (I do think that's the title that's going to stick). Thunder storms moved into the area, which was fine--Katherine (who did some wonderful painting today) and I had gin and tonics on the covered part of the deck until the rain even came at us. Then inside for some reading, a dinner mainly of leftovers (burgers, dogs, a kielbas and yellow rice and peppers dish I made last night, salad) and a good conversation dealing with the rise of Europe (why Germany, why France, why Spain, why Italy, etc) until too weary and Katherine went to bed. Some play with Cannonball outside in the dark.

Being here reminds me of being at the VCCA--time spent working really feels important. I feel like I'm accomplishing things I won't be able to do during the school year, this sustained time for writing, translating and reading, away from the rest of the world, and then time to stop, disengage, knowing that tomorrow the space is set for me to work again, that's what I got from VCCA. Katherine and I get to spend some nice time together, and yes, I miss seeing Jesse (though we talk on the phone, just as at VCCA) but the amount of work I can do makes me wonder, as I did when I came back from VCCA last year and even this past March, how to replicate that in my daily life. Is it even possible? Have to figure out how to do that.

The revisions today on Invisible Man make me feel it is closer to completion than I thought even yesterday. Which probably means it needs tons of work but it wouldn't have happened without this time here.



Friday, July 18, 2008

Reporting from Maine (4) note the Advanced Learning Lab/NYU Child Study Center revision (since I obviously like revision myself)

Another one of those days: lots of revision of poems, reading, good cooking. Why isn't this the whole life?

Looked at Jesse's dvd draft of Poet in New York,some terrific footage that needs some stock and b shots and also some reduction (I think there's too much of me in it).

Some work on Hinojosa (mainly review and unhappiness with what I've done). Katherine did some nice painting (she demurs).

All set to go for a good bike ride and for the first time since we got here, the rain arrived and is supposed to continue for the next week. Meaning what? More reading, writing, more trips to beauty.

An update on the ALL/NYU Child Study Center: always interesting the way the world moves. Yesterday I noted that Dana Levy was still listed as the clinical director of ALL. Not anymore. I guess someone there is reading my blog. At least post! You are welcome to do so. But what about Barry Ehrlich? He's still listed as educational director. Webmaster alert! I like Barry a lot, he's a talented and smart educator, though ALL might not have been the place for him. I feel bad that he has been placed in the position he is now in, similar to Lynda? Harold and Glenn, any word here? I mean, you guys are in charge? When will there be a public explanation (considering the fanfare and publicity last year and the promises that were made, the money that you took)? Or do you guys just need a mulligan?

Colette wrote to say that Cannonball should guest blog. Here is his contribution:

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reporting from Maine (3--all the good things plus an NYU Child Study Center and Advanced Learning Lab note)

Another just right day. Slept late, then worked on Hinojosa for a good two and a half hours. I think I solved some problems by using a strategy that Pablo and I employed with Poet in New York which was to make the language as tight as possible--this seems logical for Hinojosa anyway because his syntax/language mirrors that. There's little excess, which I think is one of his strengths as a poet.

Played some with Cannonball in the yard (the famous game of stick). Katherine found Cannonball in Jesse's bed this morning, curled up the way he usually is when he sleeps with Jesse (except no Jesse, who we suppose is having a fine time at the media workshop because we haven't heard a word from him!). I think Cannonball misses Jesse some (as do we, even as we do other things).

Drove into Rockland for lunch at the Rockland Cafe which has wonderful fish cakes. Walked around and at the Farnsworth Museum, which is having a Will Barnet show, we saw in the window an Alex Katz print of Rudy Burckhardt. In the gift shop (it was too late to go to the museum) were some Fairfield Porter postcards/cards and one by Yvonne Jacquette. It was strange to see these--another part of one's life coming to the surface.

Back at the cottage, I revised a bunch of poems for Invisible, eliminated a few, and have a sense of how it can come together as a collection even as the revisions go forward. I don't want to rush things but I think it may be ready sooner than I expected. These days of just writing and reading, walking, eating, so wonderful.

Katherine drew while I revised--one of the drawings is of me on the chaise lounge on the deck working. A cover perhaps?

For dinner, grilled a steak, had potatoes and the left over Frankie corn salad. We watched the movie Vantage Point which was fun though I thought it a little too busy (maybe too many vantage points--and why does Sigourney Weaver completely disappear after the first half hour?).

NYU/ALL update: if you google "about our kids" or the nyu child study center (which will show you "about our kids") you'll get a response but if you try and get to the page, there is none! But go to the faculty and look up anyone who was part of it, say, Dana Levy, who was the clinical director who replaced Lynda Geller (no explanation ever provided for why someone with an extensive background in working with kids with Asperger's was replaced by someone whose background didn't include Asperger or Autism but did fibromyalgia, at least according to her bio on their site--an interesting decision by Harold and Glenn) and it shows that they are still part of ALL. But, surprise, click on Advanced Learning Lab on that page and you'll find, you guessed it, that there is no page for ALL. I guess someone forgot to tell the webmaster about these little things.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reporting from Maine (2), the demise of the Advanced Learning Lab at NYU Child Study Center

A short one--

stayed up too late last night watching the entire all star game--as a Met fan it was no surprise to see Wagner give up the tying run. Good to see David Wright get a hit. He is an all star.

Today, lots of work on the new poetry manuscript--working name now is Invisible and I think I may actually be able to finish it before the summer ends. Katherine did some nice drawing and painting. We went for a drive and saw some wonderful scenery, a pretty pond called Rocky Pond which I might be able to fish but may need to rent a kayak to get away from the public access. Pablo and I talked and he gave me some good advice on two Hinojosa poems. Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, made corn salad a la Frankie at Nimrod. Nice walk on the beach at Clam Cove. Tomorrow we hope to get there early enough (the tides) to give Cannonball a chance to swim, ourselves as well.

Read Jesse's Cleaver and the Eye screenplay draft. It has some good stuff in it, some good writing, good drama. Made lots of notes on it.

The Advanced Learning Lab (at NYU Child Study Center) is closing down after all. It doesn't even appear anymore on the Asperger Institute website (which it did such a short time ago). No joy here. Yes, ALL failed Jesse, failed others, but it had the potential to do a lot of good for some kids who needed this kind of place.

Harold Koplewicz and Glenn Hirsch. E-mail them and ask them what happened. I'm sure they'll have some something to say, if they are willing to respond (they always seem to be away from their desks). . E-mail me and I'll have something to say as well.



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reporting from Maine

Saturday we made the 400 mile drive up to Glen Cove, ME, a little hamlet between Rockport and Rockland and just south of Camden arriving at Anne's Seaside Cottage which looks out (some tree blockage) on Clam Cove that leads out to Penobscot Bay (memories of many years spent on Great Spruce Head Island). The cottage is just right, two bedrooms, a large living room with an open kitchen and a big deck. The yard is huge, full of gardens and flowers and Cannonball runs and runs. It's a short walk to the beach, all very pretty. I think I may have also found two ponds nearby where the fishing will be good. Just haven't had the interest (yet).

After a good lunch in Camden at Cappy's (named for Cappy Quinn, of the Quinn family that has run the mail boat to GSHI for years), we dropped Jesse off on Sunday at the Maine Media Workshop (in Rockport) where he is studying black and white photography as well as how to use a darkroom. He seems to be doing well, though we haven't seen any of the work. He's living at a motel converted into a dorm, four to a room. Room-mates seem like good people.

Meanwhile, Katherine and I have been doing a little of this, little of that. Lunch in Camden yesterday where we set on a deck and looked out at the harbor.Katherine has been drawing and painting, working both indoors and on the deck. I've been writing some, a new poem, work on my arts of sport course for the fall, work on Jose Maria Hinojosa. I've printed Jesse's screenplay Cleaver and the Eye which I expect to do some work on in the next couple of days. I also want to start screening the rough draft of his Poet in New York dvd which I can do in short bunches but want to have some things to say about it before I see him (hopefully this weekend, though he may decide to stay at the dorm over the weekend--last night when we talked he said it was a possibility).

We were finally able to figure out a way for me to get the Hinojosa books from Spain: wire transfer. The whole thing was a little nutty because the books are 17 euros a piece and the postage is 21. Add the wire transfer cost and the postage and it's 39 euros and the books are only 34.

Meanwhile the Hinojosa poems do make me a little nuts. There are all these wonderful lines and images and then he adds one which in Spanish makes perfect sense but in English just becomes strange and even bad (a wonderful poem about the amazon and the andes ends with the question why he wears no loincloth!). It's a challenge, too, because there are times he seems to be fooling around with syntax that looks simple but is really complicated and all meaning gets messed up. Since he is caught up in the surreal the question of meaning is blurred anyway, but still...

Mid-afternoon. Clearly time for lunch. More later.



Saturday, July 5, 2008

In the country and happy

July 4th weekend in Bridgehampton. Have done a ton of work--on my own poems (only three poems left in the old moleskin!), on Hinojosa (nine first draft translations), and wrote about 1500 words of a review of a Garcia Lorca book I'm doing for Performing Arts Journal. I think I need to cut it a little and the deadline is soon but I like how the piece looks. It's a very good book by Maria M. Delgado. One of the strengths, I think, is her discussion of Garcia Lorca's impossible theater. Although she doesn't make this argument, I do think it helps to refute critics who see the surreal nature of Poet in New York as an aberration. These plays, written during and after the period of Poet in New York are very much in the spirit of the surreal that informs that book. She also does a very good job, in general, of describing the plays, the various productions both during his lifetime and after his murder. It's a book I recommend and I'll post when the issue of PAJ appears.

Also, a nice long talk with Pablo today about the problems we encountered in translation (the question had somehow come up) and we came up with three. One is the question of meaning: when Garcia Lorca is at his most surreal the critical question of what does the poet mean by this is practically unanswerable. The second is the issue of biography. The poet of Poet in NY is not Garcia Lorca but a construct who looks like Garcia Lorca and experiences New York much in the same way Garcia Lorca does and is changed by it much the way Garcia Lorca was. But it is not autobiographical (for example, Garcia Lorca goes to Vermont and upstate NY before he begins his studies at Columbia; he visits Coney Island in December but describes the place as though mid-summer). The third is the Whitman poem, which shows how nuanced and eccentric Garcia Lorca was about his own homosexuality and what I think is a desire to claim Whitman not as a homosexual poet but as an American poet (in the same way that Garcia Lorca, finally beginning to come to terms with his own sexuality, wanted to be claimed as a Spanish poet).

So being in the country is more than just writing. There are flowers everywhere. It's swimming (fun with Jesse yesterday playing some kind of water football),playing catch with Jesse (who nearly took my head off with a 65 mile an hour fastball the other day) and watching Wimbledon (bravo Williams sisters), the Mets, eating good food, having good conversation with Katherine, Jesse and Karen. Katherine was working on a pretty little water color of the yard. Jesse has been working a lot on his screenplays. Karen plays piano and since our room where I work is above the piano room it's really nice when she practices. Of course, Cannonball loves it here, being able to run around the yard, chasing frisbees and sticks. Somewhere there were 4th of July fireworks but we didn't see them (nor, I admit, was I wearing my American flag pin). The weather could be nicer. Sag Harbor (where we went for lunch today) could be less crowded but on the whole, all satisfying. Mahi mahi on the grill tonight for dinner, corn, potatoes, maybe some pre-dinner mojitos (the mint is overflowing).

Hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend. We return Monday to Brooklyn where I hope to be as productive. We leave the following Saturday for Maine for a few weeks where I hope to take all these drafts I've been working on and make something happen.



Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hinojosa day and some more NYU Child Study Center and Advanced Learning Lab stuff

One of those good translation days-worked through some difficult poems--they seem so simple and then he uses words that one knows but he isn't using them for our time--they are locked in the 1920's. So how to make that happen? And how to not lose his very delicate music in Spanish to English? Talked with Pablo for a while about this tonight. He had some thoughts but essentially this is one I'm going to have to work thought and then depend on advice,

And got some good work in on some new poems. And a new essay on Lorca.

Sadness for the Eugene Lang family--Theresa Lang died the other night--a very good woman married to a great man. Our condolences.

Heard through the grapevine that the NYU Child Study Center is going ahead with ALL for next year and that contrary to what they told the initial group, now there will be a 9th and 10th grade (could it be that at least half of the first group mysteriously stopped coming?). And are they yet in compliance with the DOE (don't think so--be careful if you think your kid will actually get hs credit for attending)? And now they offer scholarships? Boy, we could sure have used those last year when they took our money and gave us nothing. Again,. be careful. They are giving scholarships because they know that you won't get anything from the DOE, so if you have been from other schools, don't count on a cent from the DOE (as the parents this year learned). Ask questions about what happened in the previous year. Ask me why as soon as my son left for another school he began to have a successful academic and social year. Don't let them song and dance you. They did it to us--we have all these documents about the amazing things the program would do in the coming year. Advanced math. Foreign languages. Social excursions with kids from other schools. Whoops.

Ask questions. Don't be satisfied with assurances. Harold is known as having an inflated ego and Glenn is known for being, well, Glenn. You should see the ridiculous e-mails he sent me about my son, who he never of course actually met. I think the word pompous here is very useful (I wish I could take credit but it's a word his current employees have used to describe him--I will protect my sources--the plural matters here). The NYU/ALL people will tell you it's all confidential but that is actually legally untrue. They just say it and think that we parents who want the best for our kids will take their word and will jump at the chance for this. Well, jump, if you must, but swimming out of the muck took us a long time.

We're clean now. At least on the outside. But our kids keeps asking why they did this. And we have to bear the responsibility for having allowed it to go on for him for as long as it did.



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Advanced Learning Lab at NYU Child Study Center

So hard to break though the google noise they create for themselves.

Better at politics than helping kids, Oh boy, And look who is on the board!

As if they care about the kids. Well they are very good at collecting the money (no doubt shaming my father, an NYU graduate).

Good luck to all. We've found the school for our son and thank God it has nothing to do with their uninformed work. He may have lost an academic year but not his academic and social life, after they shut the program down and we were smart enough to get out, before they resumed with their outmoded behavioral models and their surprisingly inadequate staff.

For those who need more info, feel free to contact me. If you want to hear how nice things will be, contact them, but I can tell you who they won't let you speak with because those people don't count anymore, even though they were the ones who came up with the idea. Call Glenn Hirsch or Harold Koplewicz--they are behind the disaster.


NYU Child Study Center and the Advanced Learning Lab

If you are a parent or guardian who has a real interest in learning more about the work of the NYU Child Study Center and the Advanced Learning Lab, please feel free to contact me. I have extensive experience with what they do and who they are and I'm also happy to put you in touch with parents who have things to say about their work. As I mentioned in a previous post, please go in with your eyes open: these folks are not the people they appear to be. Some people there are gifted professionals-this does not include the people who actually are running the program, so very sad to say.

And so very sad that the administrators at NYU have chosen to ignore this sad sad situation. Perhaps they don't know or they themselves are to blame? It cost us 30,000 to find out!

If you see this blog please pass it along. They don't deserve our time, our money, and, most of all, our children.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some week, lots of translating, poetry and the filming of "Gwen Hirsch"

Katherine and Jesse were away on Fire Island with some friends so I had the week to work. It seemed like a lot of time was spent waking up at 3 and 4 and 5 so I could call people in Spain re: the Hinojosa project, which is now going well (I think) though there is still some issue of permissions re: the use of the Spanish, though everyone in Spain (the heirs included) assures me this should be no problem as I think they really like the idea of his reputacion as a poet having some kind of resurrection. Of particular help has been the wonderful Alfonso Sanchez. Tin House has accepted three of the translations for their next issue along with a small essay by me which deals with the erasure of Hinojosa as a poet.

My goal these days is to seriously work on two poems of my own and two translations every day, which may not sound like a lot but it really is a lot of work. My goal is to finish typing all the poems from the June 2007-February 2008 moleskin and then using our two weeks in Maine (end of July) to do some serious revision on those as well as on the Hinojosa project. Then we come back to Brooklyn for a bit, off to New Hampshire to Dick Merryman's and then down to Virginia for a few days at Nimrod. Then we hit the Staunton Music Festival where Dennis Tobenski's song cycle for seven of my poems premieres. In between all this, I've got to plan out two new courses for the fall. Yikes.

Have I spelled this out before? Maybe. That would mean reading my own blog!

Meanwhile, while Jesse was out on Fire Island, he made this great film parody, Gwen Hirsch which really gets at the whole of the ALL experience. It really is a hoot but it also gets at how seriously awful and misleading the whole of ALL and the NYU Child Study Center were about what was supposed to be a ground-breaking program but became nothing more than a disaster. What they did to the kids (and the parents) was practically criminal and I warn anyone against having anything to do with them. Or at least go in with your eyes wide open and know that what I've heard from other folks in the field, those guys have the reputation of being full of themselves and have no regard for the kids they pretend to care about.

On a different note, a poem from Celia Cruz:

the evolution of complexity
for Alan MacGowan

why we love
is the first question
if there’s a second one
I think this day
is too beautiful to ask it
the trees are blossoming
white, pink, yellow
crocus and daffodil
the air just smells good
despite the city
despite the world and
its newspaper news
I’m not really interested
in answers
I just like the question
why we love
which invites the
inevitable response
how could we not
okay, there’s the second question
impossible to resist
like going for a walk
on a day like today
so many people smiling
as though paying attention
to the smallest things
is everything



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

a work day

Worked on new poems, short, long, felt pretty good. These are ones I first wrote in November so there is a lot of snow and cold imagery/atmosphere, very interesting. But that's the way I like to work--first draft gets written, then sits for months and then I come back and see if it's worth continuing.

Also worked some on the Hinojosa poems. The guy is good and he's also tough--words like redil (sheep-fold), fosfenos (phosphenes), barlovento (windward). He also is a cross between a surrealist (and the world of the unconscious) and a modernist (a kind of Pound-like precision).

Another poem from Celia Cruz:

good luck prayer

horn wind
siren wind
bleating bleating
beauty wind
this night silence
broken by darkness
then pieced together
threaded woven
you are charmed by the thought
this will bring us closer
this will take on
what a kiss takes on
what a whisper

almost on our knees
eyes closed
in time to pray and worry
to the left
one tree
to its left
where winter ends
a field

Saturday, June 14, 2008

An interesting week (maybe)

My week has been spent trying to get hold of the work of Jose Maria Hinojosa, the wonderful surrealist poet of the Generation of 27 who has somehow been erased because his politics fell on the wrong side (he was against the Republic, for the fascists, or at least the monarchists, and he was killed three days after Lorca--no one suggests a direct connection but the coincidence is an interesting one), He is, however, an amazing poet, publishing his last book in 1931 (he is killed in 36) and was close to Bunuel, Lorca, Dali, etc and his books are exceptionally difficult to find (out of print in Spain, never translated in the US). Fortunately Yale has a copy of his Poesias Completas which I have borrowedon an inter-library loan and have begun translating. They are quite good (his poems, we'll have to see about my translations, some of his language is killer).

Part of the project, of course, has entailed getting the permission of the family to allow me to publish the Spanish versions (my plan is a bilingual edition). After several phone calls to Spain (at three and four o'clock in the morning, talk about messing up one's sleep cycles) I tracked down a fellow who thought he could help me. He gave me his e-mail address and I spent two days trying to e-mail him, to no avail. All e-mails sent from my earthlink and newschool accounts came back saying the message was undeliverable. Then Jesse had the idea that the problem was the server (brilliant Jesse) so yesterday I sent the e-mail from my gmail account (statmanm@gmail.com). No error message so I assume it worked though I've yet to get a response. Since I sent this in the early afternoon on Friday, I'm assuming it was the end of the work week. Which means if I hear it won't be until Monday. Will keep all informed.

And yes, I do seem to maintain 3 e-mail accounts: statmanm@earthlink.net, statmanm@newschoool.edu, and statmanm@gmail.com. Write to any and I get them since all are forwarded every which way.

On an interesting a note, someone attempted to impersonate me, calling the Community Bookstore in Park Slope, claiming it was me and that I was in Pennsylvania and needed money wired immediately because my car had been impounded and I couldn't even get to my wallet and would the bookstore (where I recently read and like to buy books) please wire the money to an address in California. Right. Of course, everyone caught on to the scam (especially considering I was in my study in Brooklyn working on some new poems and I could see my car out the window). Just one more thing, though, to fill up the time. I think the real tip-off came when the person claiming to be me reminded the folks at the store that I'd recently read there with Paul Medina (a mistake made by Time Out New York in one of their web listings). Since Pablo hadn't even made the reading, well...

Meanwhile Jesse has made a very good initial trailer for the Poet in NY documentary and it should be on his website soon. Perhaps he can inform us of when it will be available?

Entonces, saludos y abrazos a todos--tomorrow some poems for the page.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot Monday

It really was.

un abrazo a todos,


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hot Sunday

Lots of time spent the last few days spent working on Jesse's room, cleaning it out, organizing so much of it. He completely re-did the walls, filled with lots of his artwork (some very large and impressive paintings, as well as some very interesting smaller ones. There are portraits, self-portraits, abstract work, a giant piece that is really something, life-size white on black of of a woman in motion). He hopes to get these on a web-site soon. It will be something to see.

For me, the real work of the summer, I think, begins tomorrow. I'm waiting on an inter-library loan on the Hinojosa but have already started on the twenty or so I already have. Plus work on the two new manuscripts should move forward, one is the random poems of the last year and the other is the poems for Mark Statman: An Anti-Memoir. As these become revised, I'll start posting.

But here is something 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

the future

I thought Hillary's speech today was terrific, moving, poignant, and a call to rally and get rid of the clowns who have been in power not just for seven years but, as she noted, for the better part of four decades. So I'm fifty now and it matters to me to think about time in that way.

For those of you who missed Lorca's birthday a few days ago, drink some brandy (he liked it) and I hope you enjoy this poem. It's from Celia Cruz

(a)political poem

I think about politics all the time
but I don’t write many
directly political poems
two things worry me:
that the poem
becomes dated
grounded in a moment
and somehow meaningless
a week or month or year later
the second thing
my fear
that somehow writing the poem
I’ll think I’ve accomplished something
I’ve done what needs to be done
and can move on

Thursday, June 5, 2008

obama and clinton meet tonight

This is a good thing.

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

update and correction and a poem

Today was one of those days where I wrote a little.], worked on my new secret translation project (e-mail me of you care) and also spent some time advising Jesse on his new scrren play which is funny and serious and I think will make a terrific film.

Also, just to clarify: apparently there is a cardiologist is Maryland named Glenn Hirsch, who is quite competent. The incompetent I refer to is not there, but at the NYU Child Study Center. I advise all parents interested in this program, and a special shout here to the folks at AHA to spread the word, he is one of those doctors who makes a diagnosis without meeting kids, claims an interest in their lives and then does nothing to follow up on that. His consultations with parents are short and he is uninterested in what we know about our kids. Our family experiences with him have found him lacking in any kind of social or creative consciousness so if this is the Glenn Hirsch to whom you were thinking of entrusting your child, beware. He's also a terrible prose writer, which kicks me crazy. Koplewicz also has a lousy prose style but he fancies himself a big shot with adolescent kids--the ones I know jut laugh at him. Harold probably thinks they've made a break though but probably it's to the other side and Harry can't go there because it's a place he doesn't understand (you know what happens when you really break on through).

Another poem from Celia Cruz


so we linger a long time
and then
try to remember
what remembrance
was supposed to be made of
looking out at cliffs
looking out at the ocean
with a deep forest behind us
you talk about
how you lost your compass
that it was a bad idea
though you really meant fact
you hate facts
how added up
they only have a meaning
so undecided and certain
we always ignore it
today your face takes on
the dreaminess of
love and sex
imagined and real
imagined or real
eyes closed
no movement, movement
you take white pieces of paper
out of your pockets
and throw these
birds, you say, birds
I watch them take flight
stuttering on the air
and think of nests
they’ll return to
illusory homes
a glimpse at a world
unrestrained, perplexed, unfettered

love to all


Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Yes--I did do all those readings. And these as well:

City Lights (SF)
New Cadences (Santa Cruz)
Perch (Brooklyn)
Cornelia Street Cafe (Manhattan)
St Marks Poetry Project (Manhattan)
Community Books (Brooklyn)
La Mama (Manhattan)
Brooklyn Public Library (Main Branch)

reading Lorca, reading Celia Cruz, having lots of fun, meeting some fun people and getting to talk about poetry and Lorca and Spain, the forgotten poets of the Spanish Civil War (Alexandre, Alberti, Guillen, Cernuda, Hernandez, and so on). Jesse has begun working on a short film that documents the Poet in New York readings, based on an enormous amount of shooting he did during all the touring. It has some great music in it, some great readings and readers. More later on this.

Historic night tonight--the Dems will elect an African American as their candidate for president. Go Barack!

A poem from Celia Cruz:

weather sounds

I thought it would be romantic:
the lights were dimmed
and I kissed you
it thundered
from outside
and not my kiss
though I hoped
you’d make the two the same
what was that?
thunder, me, you
the weather had turned
but we like it:
we like the thunder
we like the splitting atom sound
escape of atoms
into romance
we want this to be
our whole life
act after act
of love, of kindness
with steps together certain
even when the direction wrong

back in the saddle

Okay, I know it's been a long time since I blogged but things have been pretty crazy and good and I'll have a lot to write in the next couple of days and weeks and I'm looking forward to summer as a time to put some poems and ideas out into the world. It's late at night right now so I'm going to just start by saying thank you to all the wonderful friends and family who sent me postcards for my 50th birthday. There were so many of them and so many moving notes that I can't imagine having the time to respond to all of them but thank you thank you thank you.

In the days ahead I'm going to be writing about the past few months (some mighty exciting things, wonderful readings and events), about the current months (mainly summer fun and then the fall when Poet in New York goes on the road again, NYC, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, to name a few), about some new projects fueled by some wonderful time in March at VCCA over spring break--which include two new poetry manuscripts, a non-fiction study of the poets of the Generation of 27 and a new translation project that I'm sworn to secrecy on I'll have to kill myself. There will be a constant and big boo section for all things having to do with ALL and the NYU Child Study Center (spread the word--these guys are phony and are ripping off innocent families and kids and I mean this--they use tax dollars to do some pretty awful things to some very good people and while there are good people involved there, they are not the decision makers and if you hear the names Harold Koplewicz or Glenn Hirsch, flee as fast as you can and make sure your wallet is still in your pocket as you do--they've done a great job of ripping folks off to the tune of 30,000 per family and pretending to be a school which the state doesn't even recognize).

A date to circle on the calendar is that Pablo and I will appear on the Leonard Lopate Show on June 23 at 1PM--don't miss it--should be great fun.

So I re-enter the blog world, surprised at how much I've missed it.

Looking forward to hearing from all.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

on the road again

Okay--it's been a while since I've blogged--AWP took a lot out of me as has the new semester, two fun courses but both new and they're keeping me on my toes--the New School event was wonderful; you can see photos from it at flickr., AWP was a chance to see lots of old friends. This past Tuesday night WNET 13 (go to thirteen.org to see it on their site if you missed it then or on the Saturday am reprise) featured myself and Pablo talking about Poet in New York, and we're getting ready to do the little west coast tour that has us at City Lights in SF on Thursday, 2/21 at 7 PM, at New Cadences (Santa Cruz)Friday 2/22 at 7PM and we're also taping the Poetry Show which will broadcast on the west coast on Sunday 2/24.

I'm looking forward to it all. Katherine and Jesse are arranging all the touring stuff, which allows me to be a tourist and think about reading and talking about Lorca. I've also started to make notes on the new book I want to write on Spanish surrealism, which will not be academic but more a book about discovery, which excites me because I want to write about how exciting it is to have been discovering all these artists who created this moment in Spanish history and then, because of the rise of fascism meant the end of the flowering of Spanish culture. Yes, a lot of them continued to work, but in exile, no longer a generation.

Wonderful review today on the El Paso Times by Rigoberto Gonzalez http://www.elpasotimes.com/living/ci_8284350.

Check it out.

Other notes:
March readings:
March 4 at Perch (5th Avenue in Brooklyn between 5th and 6th Streets)--nice comfortable space, series, this will be poems from Celia Cruz and some Lorca
March 12 at Cornelia Street Cafe with Lynn Chandhok and Kim Lyons, Bill Zavatsky as host, oh yeah, and again Celia Cruz and Lorca
March 26 at the St Marks Poetry Project, a celebration of Poet in New York with tons of readers, great music (two of the greatest flamenco musicians alive) and food--be there for the fun (and to hear Ron Padgett read Lorca's Ode to Whitman--that alone is worth the price of admission).

April readings:

April 4 at Community Books (7th Ave in Brooklyn)--Pablo will be there and it will be a Lorca fest
April 26 at the Brooklyn Public Library in the new auditorium--this should be fun

More later.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Public Life (4)

Okay, I'm not feeling very public right now, have some kind of bug, but I thought I'd take a minute to note that the interview Bob Edwards did with me and Pablo about Poet in New York is available from audiophile (I was able to buy it and an interview Edwards did with David Lynch, this for Jesse who is a major Lynch fan, for a total of less than five dollars).

Publishers Weekly mentioned the interview today (http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6525215.html?nid=2286&rid=&). As Pablo noted to me in an e-mail, every little bit helps.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Public Life (3)

The Bob Edwards Show, in which he interviews me and Pablo about Poet in New York, airs tomorrow on XM. After that you can go to his website and it will be avaialble as a podcast.

The Public Life (2)

Tuesday was a strange and wonderful day. Two poems from Poet in New York were featured on Poetry Daily, Rigoberto Gonzalez wrote the most wonderful review on the Poetry Foundation's blog, and Elissa Schappell gave us these words in the new Vanity Fair (February) Hot Type column:"Poets Pablo Medina and Mark Statman re=translate Federico Garcia Lorca's Surrealist masterwork Poet in New York (Grove). Post 9/11 Lorca's lamentations on racism, violence and loneliness ring truer than ever."

I worked on four new poems and the semester started. How good can life be?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Public Life

Okay: an admission, I'm not a daily blogger. I don't seem to put photos on my blog. But I make no claims to be a daily blogger, a photo poster. So what do I claim? That when the urge comes to blog, I will blog. And here I am, after a slightly lazy early part of the day, reading the paper, thinking about the football Giants chances tomorrow, I got serious and worked on some new poems for most of the afternoon. Six to be exact. They all need a lot of work and I'm not sure how good they are. Three of them are for my anti-memoir, the other three are for, well, they are just there, to go into the file of poems 2007- which eventually will become something.

Most of my time this past week has been spent finalizing my two new courses for the spring. Spanish surrealism feels like it's in very good shape--I like the readings a lot and have begun to think seriously about what paintings from Miro, Dali, Picasso and Varo to focus on. I wasn't able to put these on the course syllabus but I will be able to give them to the students at some point early in the semester. I put the reader together (it only lacks Lorca's play El Publico/The Public which Lorca started while he was in New York and finished when he returned to Spain. It's his most surreal play and it's also one where he acknowledges his homosexuality (something he publicly begins to do in his writing in Poet in New York). As for my advanced poetry class, since the focus is on the long poem, we'll read three "short" long poems to start the semester, Eliot's The Waste Land, Ginsberg's Howl, and Notley's September's Book. The second half of the semester we'll read Eliot's Four Quartets, this the idea of the "long" long poem. Of course, the students will be writing their own long poems along the way.

Thursday and Friday were Poet in New York publicity days. Thursday Pablo and I did an hour long interview with Bob Edwards for The Bob Edwards Show which is on XM satellite radio. I'm not sure of the air date, but once it airs, if you don't have satellite radio you can hear it on the website or as a podcast. Pablo and I thought this went well--Edwards asked good questions, had a nice easy manner--felt quite relaxed as soon as we started and I'd been feeling very nervous before.

Friday we taped for the WNET (Channel 13 in New York) show New York Voices which will air February 12 (this is a date change from February 5 which is the day of the big primaries and so they wisely moved it). Once this airs, it goes into their archives so you can go to their website and see it. The shoot, I have to admit, was exhausting. It went on for three hours. Rafael Pi Roman, the interviewer (like Bob Edwards), really knew his stuff and he asked some very good, thought provoking questions. It's interesting how being interviewed is not like teaching (where one does most of the questioning). You don't know what's coming, have to think fast. Pablo and I walked out exhausted but feeling pretty good. The interview as another form of our collaboration.

Today Pablo left for Las Vegas, won't return to NY until AWP 30 January. Our book party is on the 31st. So far we've been getting some nice responses to the book (the Daily News did a small piece on the book for their Latino section --it mainly focuses on Pablo, which makes sense, given the section's audience). You can see this on-line at the Daily News website.

So that's a little bit of the life lately.

Go Giants!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Spanish Surrealism and a Celia Cruz poem

I think I'm getting a better sense of how this course will be put together. Start with some writings from Breton and Aragon, kind of a background of French surrealism, then go to a discussion of Spain in the 20's and 30's, from the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in 1923, to the Republic in 1931, to the beginning of the Civil War in 1936. I'll introduce the Generation of 27 (the relationship with the Generation of 98) and the backdrop both of Madrid (Residencia de Estudiantes) and Barcelona. Then we'll start with the poets, a talk Lorca gave in NY and in Cuba in 1929/30 on Imagination, Inspiration, Evasion, then some poems from Poet in New York, Lorca's "Ode to Salvador Dali",followed by Alexandre, Guillen, and Alberti (I'm having trouble finding Cernuda in translation so I may offer these in the reader because I think there are some students registered for the class who speak Spanish). After that, we'll turn to the painters, with statements by Miro and Picasso (plus a Picasso poem) and a long section from The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, which we'll read while we look at their paintings. The next section of the course will deal with theater and film. We'll read Lorca's El Publico (The Public) and a partial text of Un Chien Andalou. We'll screen Un Chien Andalou and L'Age D'Or. After that, I hope we'll have enough time for each student to give a five-seven minute presentation of their final projects (this could take the last four classes of the semester).

At any rate, that's where I am in my thinking. It's taking up a ton of time to think about how to make all this material fit into the semester, but I think I'll manage.

A poem from Celia Cruz:


there’s no clear way to grow
not tall
nor old
nor along with the winter day
this street this afternoon
the sun is blinding
you turn the other way
to watch the walking shadows
walk with you
some teenage girls
in one beautiful voice
stand on a corner and sing
there’s no way here for me to take you home
separated out
their voices wouldn’t seem so
but together
energy and
the way words and meaning
don’t matter
just song
their laughter
what else do you want to hear?
it snowed this morning
the sky is blue
all day there were little things
dishes, clean-up, straighten up
slow down, baby, one girl sings
a sudden deeper solo
voice among their voices
you wonder
is there someone for her now
she’d sing slow down to?
she’s young and tall
steam surrounds her face
and her friends just watch her
swaying, swaying
slow down, baby
slow down

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Surrounding Myself With Spanish Surrealism

These last few days I've really been immersing myself in what seems to be a strange subject, Spanish Surrealism. Strange because there's a way in which it doesn't exactly exist, at least not in the way one would think of French Surrealism, which it is influenced strongly by. I've been thinking a lot about the poets (Lorca, Alexandre, Alberti, Guillen, Cernuda), the painters (primarily Dali and Miro, with some Picasso, although there's your tip-off that Spanish Surrealism is going to be something else), and Bunuel. I think the key in all this is the influence that Breton's manifesto of 1924 has on the Generation of 27, but that the Generation of 27, in being less interested in automatism, and also less interested in Marx than they are in Freud, can only take Breton so far. When Breton issues a new manifesto in 1929, which addresses the need for political engagement (which would make sense to the Spanish, given the growing tensions in Spain), Breton comes out for the communists (which alienates a lot of French surrealists, who suddenly are no longer included in the Surrealist world). But this creates problems too for the Spanish, who number the communists as only one of the many forces that support the Republic (the socialists, the anarchists,the democrats, etc). In addition, French Surrealism seems more of a response to WW I and to modernism, dada, etc. whereas for the Spanish, there's more a sense of trying to find a more unified (and modern) way of thinking about art, literature, etc. Thus the poets, for example, are drawing on the influences of the Generation of 98, of Gongora, etc. Lorca has his great surrealist moments in Poet in New York and there are isolated moments where we see this again (his ode to Dali for example). I think Blood Wedding links the lyrical, the dramatic and the surreal, but it certainly doesn't fit in with conventions (viz Breton of Surrealism). Lorca's idea with La Barraca was that he could create a theater that would serve to unify Spain. I don't think a unified France is Breton's project.

This all interests me because I'm teaching a course next semester on Spanish Surrealism and I'm realizing that it's much more complicated and interesting than I'd anticipated. Getting all the material together is exciting but taking up a lot of time. Which images to use? Which poems? I think with Bunuel I'm going with Un chien andalou and L'Age D'Or. Disturbing in all this is how few women there are to even be able to think about. Remedio Varos does some interesting work in Paris, some exquisite corpses, but few women surrealists emerge out of Spain (culture?).

On other fronts, New Year's was spent in a very home-like way. Jesse and I cooked dinner using his new wok--early in the day we made steamed dumplings, and for dinner we had a quick fried fish in a soy/ginger/white vinegar sauce that was quite good, along with sauteed chinese noodles with garlic and chinese sausage. We watched The Gay Divorcee and Shall We Dance and then at midnight there was champagne and confetti and then bed-time. Today was spent on a traditional lentil stew (ham hock and pigs feet) and lots of college football in the background, while I though some more about Spanish Surrealism. I think I've worked out the details on my Advanced Poetry class (more on this later) so the semester, which begins in three weeks is coming together. Teaching new courses is always fun but the first assembling of material I find a little daunting.

Happy New Year to all! Un abrazo fuerte!