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 ( 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:,, and 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.