Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reading news

Saturday, January 9, 2010, 6:00-7:30


Mark Statman, Jane LeCroy,
and Bill Zavatsky

Bob Hershon (moderator)

This is the first reading for Tourist at a Miracle by Mark Statman, of which David Shapiro has written: "A lot of magic and a lot of music...” Bill Corbett: “Delivers the tourist’s wonder and distance in spare, deliberate music – American poetry’s grand plain style...” and Joseph Lease: “This book is a delight.”

Mark Statman's recent books include Tourist at a Miracle (Hanging Loose, 2010) and, with Pablo Medina, a translation of Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York (Grove, 2008).

Jane LeCroy is a widely published and performing NYC poet, teacher, front-woman of the avant-jazz-poetry band TRANSMITTING, home-birthing mother of three, televisionless, vegetarian, atheist, rebel soul subversive troublemaker.

Bill Zavatsky's last book of poems is Where X Marks the Spot (Hanging Loose). Just published poem/liner notes on the CD Alone by jazz pianist Marc Copland (Pirouet). He teaches English at the Trinity School in New York City.

Bob Hershon is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Calls from the Outside World (Hanging Loose).

Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery (between E. Houston and Bleecker Sts.)
F train to 2nd Avenue; 6 to Bleecker
$6.00 admission

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post-Christmas meander

It was a good and sweet, simple Christmas. We woke up, and had the usual Christmas morning snacks--smoked salmon, oysters, a duck pate, cheeses of sorts, bread, crackers, a nice Italian blood orange sparkling something or other. Stocking presents, gifts. Jesse was quite happy with his chosen harmonica and new ukulele, surprised by Slipknot and Coheed and Cambria tablature books (interesting to think of those two bands on a ukulele, but he mainly was playing his own songs). With the uke, Jesse is becoming a young man of many stringed instruments, from the above, to guitars to mandolin. He gave Katherine and me each a personalized cd (this the answer to why he'd spent the day before Christmas quizzing us about our favorites of the songs he has written).

Afterwards, Jesse decided to stay at home and Katherine and I went to the movies, Sherlock Holmes, Not a great movie, but a whole lot of fun. Then we took a long walk in Prospect Park. The snow disappeared yesterday in the rain but Christmas day it was all still there, shimmering under the lights.

Yesterday as the snow disappeared in the rain, we walked around a little and then I went over to the bookstore and did some post-Christmas shopping (my gift was to be able to do this). Bought some Chekhov short stories, the correspondence of Rilke and Lou Andreas-Salome, Andamios, a novel and El amor, las mujeres y la vida, a poetry collection by Mario Benedetti, Lituma en los Andes, a novel by Vargas Llosa, short stories by John Fante, Of This World, a poetry collection by John Stroud whose work I don't know very well, and Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky, which Katherine is reading in the original French these days. Very happy to have these books. Along with Conrad's Nostromo, and a few other things here and there, these are the books I expect to be reading for the rest of the winter break (school starts again on January 25th).

Most of these are coming with me to the VCCA which I leave for tomorrow morning. Very excited by this. Should arrive in the evening, with luck in time for dinner. If I do make dinner, the plan will be to set up my studio afterwards and be ready to think and work as soon as I can Tuesday morning. My hope is to work on poems I started last summer, return to Hinojosa (a big push on Flor de California). Without setting it all in stone, I'm hoping to get started on work that will continue after I come back on the 4th, take me through the rest of the break and give me some clear vision for the writing I can do this semester. It's always hard to do that, write during the semester, but I want to make that push this spring, a nice lead in to the summer (can I really be thinking that far ahead?). In the middle of all this will be readings from Tourist at a Miracle (keep eyes peeled for those on this blog and elsewhere).

Of note: received word from Dennis Tobenski that there will be a performance of Echoes on Wednesday, January 27 at 9:30 pm in the West Village. He says that he'll be singing the poems himself, which makes it a real treat indeed.

More later.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

The tree is trimmed, the stockings not yet stuffed (soon, soon) and presents no doubt will appear. In recycling happiness, we'll wrap all gifts in rolls of paper brought out of storage from many years' past.

The house is filled with smells of pine and freesia (a winter bouquet from a local market) and we look forward to the Harry and David pears that Anne Porter sent (they're beginning to smell and feel just right).

Word from Hanging Loose is that Tourist at a Miracle shipped yesterday and should be in New York early next week. With Katherine's blessing and a nod from Jesse, on Monday I'll head down to the VCCA for a week of country air, for poetry and rest, a chance to reflect a little bit on the past year, to recharge the batteries that seem a little run down.

peace and joy to all, saludos, abrazos, amor,


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Not quite three months

Oh where does the time go? Just a minute ago I was celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and now Chanukah is done and we've got our tree and the Christmas parties have started in earnest, the semester is over, work needs grading, so what's a poet to say to any and all but hello. I hope you missed me.

War stories abound and I won't tell any because there isn't much point except to say that there are war stories that could be told of these past months and I've survived. Walking. Breathing. Feeling good about the world.

Of note: these were good months. A little time that I was pretty sick, but that passed and now am up to pretty full speed (proof was last night's midnight romp in the snow with Cannonball, and a healthy shoveling of stoop and walk in the middle of the blizzard; today's walk with Katherine, Jesse and Cannonball in the park suggested that the romp was no fluke, nor was the blizzard, see Jesse's website for photos

Of note: Tourist at a Miracle is any day now. A slight glitch in the cover, discovered in time on bound galleys before cover and book were bound. Old were destroyed, new covers printed, a week's delay (not in time for Christmas) but the 2010 book will make its appearance in 2009. It looks terrific. You can see sneak previews in the current issues of Hanging Loose, Cincinnati Review and with an additional poem in the forthcoming new Portable Bloog (look for it New Year's Day, on-line and elsewhere, St. Mark's, the Bowery Poetry Club, etc).

Of note: for Tourist at a Miracle, first reading will be at the Bowery Poetry Club, Saturday, January 9, from 6-7:30. Other readers include Jane LeCroy and Bill Zavatsky.

Of note: I reluctantly support the Senate's pending health care bill. It is not great by any means and to say something is better than nothing sounds like a cop-out. But it isn't. Social Security took time to become Social Security. The same with Medicaid and Medicare. To have a national health care policy that has some very distressing things in it only suggests that progress isn't made in a straight line. I don't often quote Edward Albee (does anyone?) but in Zoo Story he writes Sometimes you have to go a long distance out of your way in order to come back a short distance correctly. This is a part of the long distance. With more work, we go further on that road (the one you make by walking) to come back that short distance right.

Of note: to keep the record straight, last week, I finished a moleskine, and started another, which already seems to have more poems in it than I could have expected. It gives me great happiness to think about this coming break: poetry, translation, a new book of poems, seeing friends, being with Katherine and Jesse.

Peace and love in this time of celebrations.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

a new year

So we have passed through the days of awe and into the days of a new year.

I wish all my friends of every faith, and my friends who have no faith at all:) a good year, full of joy and possibility, and I thank you all for your friendship and good will.

The last weeks have seen the loss of many people who mattered in many of our collective lives--but memory matters so just keep doing that, remembering. Talking. Sharing. It's by the stories we leave behind that we live beyond the mortal coil.

Let this be a time in which peace becomes a greater possibility, when we can really think of a finer world than the world of the year before.



Monday, September 28, 2009

okay so I really am insomniac

A few things:

proofs are back to HL, I think all things said and done this will be a book of which I'm very proud, Donna Brook and Dick Lourie have done an extraordinary job. It even surpasses the work Ron P. and Chris E. did on Listener, which astounded me.

So a moment of sadness for Willliam Safire. I can't remember many points on which we agreed on the political side, but he was a great colleague in language and I will miss his (sometimes wrong) takes on language, but never his wit or his style.

In these days, I send my best and wish him and his elegant voice, a happy and confrontational voice with all in that heavenly consortium.

But I m tired of being sad.



Friday, September 18, 2009

proofs have arrived and sadness re: Jim Carroll

Two (or three?) quick notes:

The proofs for Tourist at a Miracle arrived today via e-mail from Hanging Loose. I have to say, the book looks good. Donna Brook was such a marvelous editor and Dick Lourie such an astute copy-editor that as I go through it I wonder--did I write this? Of course I did but seeing it in this form there is a freshness, even for me, who has lived with these poems for many years now. The cover art (Katherine Koch) is beautiful and though the book is scheduled for 2010, I should have walking around copies by late this year. Excited? Oh yes.

And another piece of sadness to see that Jim Carroll is dead at 60 of a heart attack. He was one of those figures that, like Ted Berrigan somehow became larger than life in our lives. The Basketball Diaries have a voice and kind of sophisticated innocence that in memory still draws me and haunts in a way that is poignant? impossible? original? So another blog entry that has to confront death. "Time's beating wings" as Katherine reminded me.

Some have wondered about the Hinajosa work: it goes but goes slowly. Saw a major error in the first four books. In my absorption of getting his voice, I put poems in the preterite into the present. So have to go back and correct, correct, correct. When Pablo Medina, my collaborator on Poet in New York called to note this (I had sent him a large part of the manuscript) he didn't even say a word before I just said "I know I know I know." Good friend that he is, he didn't make me feel like an idiot but simply praised the essence of what I was doing.

un abrazo a todos,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

mary travers

I am deeply saddened to hear the news of mary travers death. She was one of the voices of my youth and even now to go on-line and hear her radiant and ageless voice fills me with a kind of happiness and melancholy I find hard to express. Whether it was the sweet simplicity of such dopy and wonderful songs as Puff or to hear her on Leaving on a Jet Plane or 500 Miles or Blowing in the Wind with Peter and Paul, there was also something confident, bold and courageous in her voice. I find my last two posts have been about folks dying (Teddy and now Mary). A sign of the voices of my life life moving by. My own as well.

I expect to post something happier soon, but felt this part of my life needed to be marked.

abrazos a todos.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

A hard and sad day: Vaya con dios el leon

I've written in my poem "invisble Man" which will appear with Hanging Loose late this fall in my collection Tourist at a Miracle (2010) that John Kennedy was my first president. And I think that, subtly, Bobby, because of where he went with Civil Rights, was my first inkling of the nature and the possibility of the public voice.

But Teddy was Teddy. Mistake prone and large as life, not the slim and swift or cool of his brothers, he did more, I think, for more American politics than his brothers may have accomplished. He maneuvered in the anti-poll-tax amendment for the Voters Right Act. He worked with Bush on education while opposing the war. He stood for a decent minimum wage while his colleagues in the senate were making hand over fist, getting money from lobbyists' and he said no time and time again. There would e no Medicare or Medicaid without Teddy. There'd be no child left behind or Chips or Voters Rights Acts. He went against the Democratic Machine and said yes we can to Obama when the Clintons prayed he would just stay out.

He was dying and he talked about a dream. He was dying and he talked about hope. He was dying and he talked about a torch being passed.

This president, and we generations can only listen and learn and act and do. I am tired of the guns at birther rallies, at the lies told about the president's origins. Teddy was a lion in many ways, but he was not alone nor did he ever believe he was alone. He stood for everything that I hold true as an American and a citizen of this world.

There is hope.
There is dream.
There is a time for then
and a time for now.

I look at my son and think what world will he inherit, not from me, but from all of us, just as all parents must wonder the same. We have work to do. Myles Horton called it the long haul. His wife sang of not being moved.

We all have our ways. Choose yours.

Un abrazo y un beso a todos los heroes y que descanses en paz el leon. Vaya con Dios.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Weeks Go By

Weeks can go by without posting and it's strange because I've been writing every day. And there is a way in which writing in a journal is like blogging, except it's obviously more private. But it feels like once I've been writing, that is working on poems, on translations, essays what is the exact point of the other (the blog)? Public record? Private record? What is it that one wants other people to know? What is it one wants to not put out into the world? But then there is the fact that a lot of what goes into the writing will become public but not without revision (what's in the poems, etc.). And since for me that's a process that can take a six months to a year (before the poem is ready), what I'm writing in the moment is not going to appear at the same time. Ah, a great soup of knowing what one wants to say and when.

So the past weeks have seen me getting ready for the semester ahead, have seen work on Hinojosa translations, have seen poems revised. Thinking about the fall is becoming exciting and strange. I don't know if I feel ready to teach (unfinished work of the summer) and yet looking over my syllabi, a kind of excitement about what's to come. The strange qualities of the academic life, that it allows for different kinds of intensities--from teaching to writing, from the need to constantly be creative and thinking about every little thing anew to the need to think historically and contextually. A new kind of brave new world mixed with cold pastoral.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Moleskin Finished

In the past several days I've been feeling like I haven't been getting any work done--in part this is because the days have seemed slightly stressful and out of order. Early in the week we dropped Katherine off to do wash and went hunting for this state park which is supposed to have some wonderful views and by the time Jesse and I got there (getting lost, it seemed, several times, our map made no sense given the way the roads really went) we realized we had to leave to get Katherine. On the drive back (a switchback road that was kind of fun) there were some beautiful views and we stopped three times so Jesse could take photos and the day wouldn't seem a complete loss.

And Wednesday I had to drive back down to Brooklyn, run some errands, come back Thursday. City traffic and construction made the trip less than fun to drive. Getting back to the cottage I felt so out of sorts, out of myself, all the little things to do having piled up to make me feel like my time had been wasted (except I have to admit for Wednesday night, when some friends came over and one, Peter Wallace, who runs the Brooklyn Artists Gym--a very cool place- stayed until 1:30 or so in the morning and we talked about some good stuff, his upcoming trip with his son to Alaska to kayak, which led to parenting in general, then art, teaching, the spiritual life that no one really wants to talk about and so on).

But today, with Katherine and Jesse going off to a state park much closer by, I wrote for a long time and finished my most recent moleskin, which suggests to me that I have been doing things--it has 41 first draft poems in it, with 18 of them having been written since the beginning of July. So with that, and the translating and the typing of translations, it seems to me I've done a lot more than I thought.

There's always something about finishing a moleskin, the sense that you've accomplished something. It's full of notes, poems, lists, phone numbers. Some of the notes are for classes I teach (Spanish Surrealism has three moleskins of notes). Part of me wonders if I should go through them and collect the notes in a central location except that I like going back for the notes not only for the notes but for seeing what I was writing about/thinking about at the time. I like how it makes me remember.

An e-mail from Dick Lourie with suggestions for three poems that will appear in the fall Hanging Loose most of which seemed pretty dead-on. I've incorporated those into the Tourist at a Miracle manuscript which he now has and which he begins copy-editing. He's good at this, very good, in fact, and I'm interested in what happens next.

Tonight, dinner at a friend's in Willow (who just this second called to give directions to her house--mystical moments). Sunday a barbecue with some other friends. I have a better social life in Woodstock than I do in Brooklyn. Amazing.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lazy Sunday?

Didn't do much today really. Walked the dog this morning. Took Jesse into Kingston to pick up a CD with a high resolution photo on it. You can see a lot of his photos now at They look pretty good there and if you like one, they are even available for purchase. He's set the prices pretty low for some quality work (a little plug here).

In the Tour, the GC looks like it did yesterday going into the rest day on Monday. Contador is 6 seconds back of the surprising leader, Rinaldo Nocentini, who is riding in his first Tour. Armstrong is 2 seconds back of Contador so the question of who the team leader is (Contador, Armstrong?) is still pretty much open. Contador showed some power in the final climb yesterday, to pick up the 2 seconds on Lance but I'm not sure that really meant anything with so many days of riding to come.

Then spent the afternoon listening to the Mets beat the Reds 9-7, got close but K-Rod managed to close it. Two home runs in one inning for the Mets after 82 innings without any (the apple didn't come up for some reason for either, and fans started chanting we want apple and at the end of the inning the apple came up to cheers). Two wins in a row going into the All-Star break. The question is how many of the injured will be coming back? Reyes seems to be running again and Delgado took batting practice. If at least some of these guys come back, it could make a big difference.

So today has been sort of a down day although I expect to do a little work after this post. I have started working on translating Hinojosa's La Flor de California and it is as tricky as I thought it might be. I feel like I'm sailing along and then suddenly I hit a real knot. The problem seems to me to be the problem that a surrealist prose-poem presents as it addresses questions of narrative. Strange.

The nice thing is I'm writing a lot of poetry, which is good. And just thinking a lot about writing. Not thinking about teaching--saving that for August.

Our social lives here seem busier than in Brooklyn. Friday night cocktails with some good folks at Portia's cabin across the road (painters and writers all), Saturday Megan came to dinner (great fun, though it meant shopping, which can be time consuming since we have to drive out of Woodstock and into West Hurley to do any real food shopping). Megan brought her two dogs and that seemed to thrill the Cannonball. We took all three for a nice walk (despite the storm that passed through here in the afternoon/evening/night--can a day go by without rain? Today we may have that luck).

So on to some work!



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Some Time and No Time

The days here pass and I get caught up in writing and reading (new poems, translations, books ranging from Cabrera Infante to Chandler and Hammett), in what's going on with the Tour de France (will Lance really try and pull this off, or will be become a super domestique to Contador? With Lance 19 seconds ahead of Alberto, it's his right to see himself as team leader, something I'll bet with which Contador isn't quite happy).

Went over yesterday for lunch to Bonnie Marranca's beautiful house in Catskill, about 45 minutes away. Pasta with broccoli and sausage, two different bean salads, a nice red wine. Then the usual unfortunate shopping which meant by the time we got home there was no real time to do much more than read a little before listening to the Mets and making dinner. The surprise that the Mets won after so many days was nice after all these losses in a row (and scoring runs!).

Today was more of what I really wanted--a morning of writing, an afternoon of transcribing Hinojosa (both translations and originals). The good thing I'm discovering about typing the original poems myself is that they help me with revisions of the translations, giving me a chance to go back and look at what I've done even more carefully. We didn't do this with Poet in New York. Didn't feel the need to but that's because (I think) there were two of us working on it. Although I do consult Pablo from time to time and some of the stranger constructions (a surrealist is always hard to translate, sometimes the subject is just lost in the poem and finding it is like solving some puzzle).

After all this, Jesse and I went into Kingston to the photo place that is able to put his photos on CD. Very expensive, compared with NYC. Probably because they are the only game in town. Film costs twice as much, as does the making of the CDs. It seems like the best thing to do is not have the film developed here but wait until we get back at the end of July. Hard for anyone to have to wait that long but better than spending money that we don't really have.

At any rate, it hasn't rained yet today (though the skies seem to be darkening). I've been doing a lot of grilling, may tonight or may have do the indoor thing.

An Hinojosa poem:


Swallows’ wings
grow from the chestnuts
and their flight is fixed
in the arbitrary game
of light and the laughter
of our guests.

Even though I maintain the shadow
set between my lips
it gave me a taste of once-flowing blood
from the sides
of ten generations
dead at Calvary.

In constant equilibrium
bodies surrounded
wove provincial dances
without an hour of rest,
holding their breath
so to not mist the fields.

The new hearts
in armor rise
and that necklace of dances
remained broken from the moment
in which I set my fingers
in the branches of the tree.

(from Orillas de la Luz)




Saturday, July 4, 2009

Catching Up Is Hard to Do so I Won't Try

Okay--it's been six weeks since I posted and a lot has happened, end of my semester, end of Jesse's school year. Some small revisions of Tourist at a Miracle, a lot of reading, catching up with the stacks of magazines that have been arriving in the mail for weeks, some books (finally finished Los Años con Laura Diaz, by Carlos Fuentes, which is some 600 pages and I never had the chance to just sit and read it).

Of course I had the usual end of the semester collapse. It seemed like I was in bed for almost a week before I felt I could do anything. But two sections of my Poet in New York class, my intro poetry course, three senior work projects and an independent study just made for a semester creatively and intellectually stimulating and exhausting. At the end, reading over 57 final portfolios was just something else.

So other than reading, I took time off. In part this was because I knew that we'd be spending the month of July at a cottage at the Byrdcliffe artist community in Woodstock. Which is where we are right now and much like at VCCA the last two years, I hit the ground running. I've written poems every day, have been translating Hinojosa--just finished today the first drafts of the final poems from his 4th book, Orillas de la Luz. Jesse has been doing a lot of photography, some video, and has been painting. Katherine has been painting too and I think we're getting into the right groove. Saw some friends for dinner last night and this reminded me that one of the things we need to do is balance the work life with the social life (as in going to a 4th of July picnic later today). We've taken some nice long walks and I'm looking forward to a couple of good bike rides.

Enough for now. More tomorrow? Imagine that.



Sunday, April 12, 2009

still buzzed

So I'm still feeling quite good about the news from Hanging Loose and will have more news soon as things move forward. Of course this gets me kicking in the sense that now I want to make the Hinojosa work go faster but I can't because school is taking up so much time. Which it obviously should except this is more than usual because we've been in the fall registration period (meeting with advisees) and I'll be teaching/directing our Writing Fellows program for the fall and spring which meant meeting with all the nominees (all top flight) to work out their fall and spring cohorts and assignments (still early in that stage).

Got off the panel proposal for ALTA in Pasadena in November. The idea is one of poets who have been lost from translation. Pablo on Padilla, Stephen Kessler on Aleixandre, Don Bogen on Bobrowski, and me on Hinojosa. Should know in a month or so if it's accepted.

Not writing much lately, but thinking a lot which is a good sign (as opposed to?).

But here is a poem for anyone out there from Hinojosa.




To peck above my cold palm,
the fluttering stars come down
and the Great Bear will never be white,
because it has forgotten its mimetic passion.

The blackened women who live in my house
have placed white-washed drapes
to erase the holes of my footprints.
Alone they have appeared from my boat sails.

Meanwhile, on a balcony of early frost,
I look over the curved horizon,
I see the smoke of London arrive,
born yellow in the chimneys
and, now white with age, it calls me in great voices
and asks with a hermit’s gesture
for the path to the North Pole.

Shrugging my shoulders turned to mist,
I give it the gift of Morse Code.

(from La Rosa de los Vientos)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tourist at a Miracle

So for a while I've been a little vague about this because nothing was certain but last week Hanging Loose Press accepted my new book of poems. Tourist at a Miracle culls poems from three different collections I've worked on" Poetry City, Celia Cruz and Invisible Man. Donna Brook, who was my editor for this did a phenomenal? superb? super human? job of seeing into the three manuscripts and finding one that I feel proud of. Tourist at a Miracle is scheduled for publication in early 2010.

I'm humbled and honored to be on the Hanging Loose list. They publish some of the best poets and writers in the game and to be included among those, well, there isn't much one can say.

Except this: that Hanging Loose (the magazine) accepted one of Jesse's poems for their High School section for HL 95 (it comes out in October). Proud dad. The poem, "Vaseline,' is really quite good. So there are two HL poets in this small family.

Abrazos a todos


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Break (4)

Good hard day of work. Finished translating and typing (Spanish and English) the poems from Hinojosa's 3rd book (La Rosa de los Vientos) with a little help from Pablo on some of the trickier constructions. This guy is tough and wearing me down a little. Also worked on some revisions of my poems and tomorrow looks to be a big day for 1) working on new poems 2)doing four translations from Orillas de la Luz which is the 4th Hinojosa book 3) actually doing some Lang work---student poems and essays-- and 4) preparing for giving a reading tomorrow night at VCCA. I'm looking forward to the latter--will read some poems from Tourist at a Miracle and from some of the new Hinojosa translation. Will read one poem in Spanish so people can hear his music then the rest en ingles.

NCAA started today and I did okay in the early part but it looks like most of my night teams are heading for defeat. The big deal will be Nova since I actually have them in the final four. Last I looked they were down by ten (yikes).

An Hinojosa poem from his 3rd book which is all about imaginary travels:


To peck above my cold palm,
the fluttering stars come down
and the Great Bear will never be white,
because it has forgotten its mimetic passion.

The blackened women who live in my house
have placed white-washed drapes
to erase the holes of my footprints.
Alone they have appeared from my boat sails.

Meanwhile, on a balcony of early frost,
I look over the curved horizon,
I see the smoke of London arrive,
born yellow in the chimneys
and, now white with age, it calls me in great voices
and asks with a hermit’s gesture
for the path to the North Pole.

Shrugging my shoulders turned to mist,
I give it the gift of Morse Code.

(from La Rosa de los Vientos)



Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Break (3)

A really good tough day. Morning spent reading and thinking about Jesse's new screenplay which is good but confused me a little. I wrote him and he and I talked this afternoon and he's done a wonderful revision to the opening monologue that really sets the stage for the rest of the screenplay (I've only seen the first 30 pages but now they make so much more sense). i also wrote a few poems this morning, one called Jesse's Script which is essentially about how productive he is, how well and quickly he writes.

The afternoon was mainly an Hinojosa afternoon. I translated five poems from Rosa de los Vientos which were actually pretty difficult and had me actually shaking when I finished them. So I went for a walk in the fields, found a place to sit and write for a while. Then back to the studio to work with Hinojosa some more, then finally to my room where I sat with the balcony door open (beautiful early spring day) and read Fuentes for a while. It's good for me to do that because he reminds me that I do actually know Spanish, which Hinojosa sometimes makes me feel I don't (this was a feeling I occasionally had with Lorca but Hinojosa I think can be even more obscure).

So a day in which I wrote some new poems, revised a few, did a ton of translating and am feeling brain creaky. Sent in my NCAA bracket stuff (final four Louisville vs Memphis, Nova vs NV; final Louisville vs NC, NC takes it all).



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Break (2)

This has been a productive day (and there's still time for more). I typed two Hinojosa poems (Spanish and English) that I had previously translated, then translated two more (with a little help from Pablo, quick telephone call to discuss the possible variations on the word bordón--we thought staff but I ended up with pilgrim's staff because of context), typed both English and Spanish and the selection/translations of the poems from Hinojosa's 2nd book Poesia de Perfil are finished (at least this draft--I'm going to have to go through it again, as I will all the poems but every translation has already been through at least two revisions). Which means two books down and four to go. Next is to select and translate poems from La Rosa de los Vientos. I've already done three so I'll probably do five more plus the prologue (there are only sixteen poems in the whole book).

As for my own poetry, some good work. Wrote three new poems and revised 4 from last summer, though I think I want to go through them again. I think my plan is going to be something like use M/T/W/Th for new work and then part of Thursday and all of Friday to review everything I've done. Because Saturday I leave (probably after lunch since I can stay in the studio until then so I won't pack that up until Saturday am). Though this may not be certain since it would mean getting back to Brooklyn around 8 or 9 which feels a little late.

At any rate, for a change, an Hinojosa poem from today:


A Francisco G. Cossío

The wind licked with anger
the tops of the trees
and while it slowly fled,
it took from its trunk
the sap of silence.

A ghost of a boat
passed through its reflection
and with a blow from its oars
took the ocean’s light.

The night goes barefoot
and eats with its breath
a warp of noise.

They hear in the port
the roar of the cables
and laments of blacks.

Where does the star go
that slides in the sky
and divides its body in two
bleeding light
fountain of air?

(from Poesia de Perfil)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break

Left Brooklyn on Sunday and drove down to Charlottesville (a glass of wine with Mary Ann in the evening, watched the NCAA post bracket shows and learned nothing), then today to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts where I will be for the week, working on new poems, on Hinojosa. Got here before noon, so after lunch was able to work all afternoon. Dinner of stuffed peppers and orzo, grilled eggplant, salad. Now back in the studio to do a little more work before spending time with fellow artists (some of whom I know from previous years--good fun).

The Hinojosa work today was tough because of how he presents these odd constructions. He just grows and grows as a challenge for me and I haven't done a thing on Flor de California, which is prose poetry that I like but makes my head spin sometimes.

The new poems are really revisions (thus far) of poems I started last year but I like that process. Looking at something I wrote last summer in Maine while looking out the window at the rainy Virginia mountains. Having a horse come by my window while working on a poem about two birds that were on the porch at the cottage we rented.

That's it for now. Promised Jesse I would blog every day I was here (this will be a first for me, not the promise but daily blogging for this week.



Friday, February 27, 2009

Catching Up (sort of)

Okay, so my last post dealt with the five hour delay at JFK on my way to Chicago for AWP. Finally got there and spent a few hectic days. had the chance to catch up with some folks--Pablo, Bill Z., Don Bogen, Joseph Lease, Greg Orfalea, got to meet Rusty Morrison who has expressed some interest in the Hinojosa translations.

But the hectic quality was worsened when my hard drive died halfway through the conference (fortunately the folks at the Genius Bar on 14th Street were able to save my data) but it was disconcerting all the same. Was able to use my iPod touch but not the same. Had a good time in Plano, workshops, sold books, met some good people (hello to Lisa Thibedeaux).

Back in NY,getting the computer repaired, teaching, took a fall, seem to have bruised/broken some ribs (still painful). Taxes to do.

But check out the new website. Nicely done.

A poem:


As we started my son
Jesse talked about technology
how the people who invent things
never know all the things
their inventions will eventually do.

After one small stretch of rapids
into a longer stretch of calm
we shifted to what was there:

the sky, dazzling
the river, cool
a blue heron sailing high
purple and blue dragonflies coupling
flowers emerging from the rock
and trees and green all along
the river’s side:
Queen Anne’s Lace
Joe Pye weed
and something
whose name I couldn’t remember.

Yellow Jerusalem artichoke
Jesse said, telling me
how a friend of a friend’s father
had started a company
that made pasta out of the roots.

abrazos a todos,


Thursday, February 12, 2009

helpless at Kennedy

Okay,so I thought I'd be on my way to awp by now, but am waiting for a flight that will be delayed by at least two hours. No fun. Have not blogged in a while because I've been busy with school, working on Hinojosa, new poems, all the usual. But the semester has started well--a good intro poetry class (some good poems, interesting readings of poets, strong conversations including one yesterday around identity that came out of the essay by Rich, "Split at the Root."

Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, so spring is not too far away.

An old poem to remind me:

Snow, late March, in Brooklyn

here it comes
sideways with the wind
racing down this street
and everything is dusted by it
cars, trees, ground
but it’s the end of March
for God’s sake
spring is here
so of course it melts
and it keeps that up
snowing and melting
all afternoon
and everyone
and by this I mean everyone
even the little kids who in November
would have been oohing
dreams of sledding and snowmen
just wish` it would stop
and finally leave us alone

this was one long winter
it was cold and snowy
and it’s time for it to be over
we have baseball bats and gloves
in the hallway
waiting for their turn
let winter come
at its time again
but for now, for right now,
let us move on



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Passing days

It's cold outside and I've been inside most of the time, working on Hinojosa translations, working on new poems, all to the good, I think. Yesterday read Toni Morrison's A Mercy which was very Toni Morrison--beautiful writing, interesting characters, nothing actually new except for the setting in the 17th century. But that in itself made for something to think about, the layers of slavery, indenture, freedom, the nature of a country before it is a country, the question of the spirit of a people before they are a people.

These ideas about being a people seem important these days. I think to the Democratic primaries and how I was always intrigued by Obama's use of we and our and Clinton's use of I and me and how I was drawn to that in Obama (note Frank Rich in the Times today talking about how in his inaugural speech Obama did not say fellow Americans but fellow citizens. This reminds me of how Dewey, when he talks about the role of education in American society is not to produce workers but citizens, people willing and hopeful of being a part of the democracy.

School starts tomorrow. Looking forward to the strange early chaos of the first days, never as fun as when the work is started but there is a newness. I know hardly any of the students in my intro poetry class and in my Poet in New York classes. So meeting and greeting. More on this, of course, as we go along.

And here's a poem:

Tú Quieres Saber

de pronto entiendo es una pregunta
y yo contesto nada

as in
suddenly I understand it is a question
and I answer nothing
the days are too streaky
running into each other
without good reasons
which is why memory always seems
so relevant and present
no difference between
a short time ago and
a long time ago
when I use one phrase
say, are we there?
I might as well have used the other
where are we?
even though
this seems to confuse
anyone I talk to
then I’m confused too
weren’t we just in Mexico
or Costa Rica
or Nicaragua
Colombia? Ecuador? Peru
didn’t we just drive to Nova Scotia
didn’t we talk
aren’t you dead
and you
and you
can I have another drink
aren’t I already drinking
así es: so it is
una cabeza llena de preguntas
a head full of questions
a month full of questions
hello, this is September
sometimes for thirty days
sometimes forever

abrazos a todos.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

checking in

So being on break seems to have meant more work than I'd have thought, in part because of having to turn in grades (no easy task when you have have to evaluate 63 final projects, think about things like participation, earlier assignments, and oddly enough, grades are due on the 30th of December but university offices are closed until 5 January, there's some planning), the discovery that the PEN Translation grant application deadline is this week (and not at February 1), and the realization that if I didn't get through some other work (for work I'll be doing later this year) I'd never move forward.

Happily, I got the grades in, finished the application and have started working on some new poems. So the complaining ends. Next week I do have to go into school to get readers in place for two classes I'm teaching in the spring.

But here is a poem I'm pleased with:

Music Central

on this one F train
on violin and trombone
two men are playing
Those Were the Days
a song from when

I was young
about a woman growing older
I remember watching
the singer sing the song
on television
I think, was it the Ed Sullivan Show
now someone is
playing an accordion
something sweet
and just as familiar
though I can’t put
a name on it
at the next stop
he’s off the train
but like
Those Were the Days
a song from when
I was young
when really there weren’t any days
to remember or regret
the way there are now

abrazos a todos


Friday, January 2, 2009

working days

Lots of work today, some rather banal (grocery shopping, taking the vacuum cleaner in for repairs) but also a good deal of work on the poetry manuscript. Editing, thinking about how to organize it in the way that makes the most sense, and I think I put something together worthwhile. Will know more when my editor gets to look at it (soon is the hope).

A poem that comes from spring:

This Belongs To

the tree frog sound today
sounds the same as
last night’s cricket
though I’m sure this isn’t true
cricket tree frog same
still my ears hear
what my ears hear
I am not confused
by crow call and blue-jay caw
I can tell the difference
between passenger train rattle
and freight
though if asked
to describe
I’d have no good response
beyond the shoulder shrug of
“oh, you know…”
a dog barks
dogs bark more
sound of pick-up on a half-paved road
bee drone
fly buzz
from the radio float
spring training baseball voices
I turn the sound off
and the game isn’t there
the rest of the afternoon



Thursday, January 1, 2009

happy new year (how original)


I've been off the blog for a long time and I can say why (long hard days of teaching, writing, book tour traveling) whatever. I thought it would be an easy thing to just sit down every day or so but I was wrong and so (mea culpa) I've been a bad blogger.

New Year's resolution: to blog more.

So let me start by simply wishing all my friends a good year. This last one has been interesting, hard and wonderful ( Poet in New York, the economy, and Obama, in that order), and I've had a chance to travel and meet with old friends, make new ones, as the Poet in New York readings took me all over the country.

I'll have more to write in the next day or so.

But here's a revised poem from the new manuscript that the wonderful Donna Brook has been editing.

How Nice This Is

blue jays in the yard
scare other birds away
then come squirrels
and the jays retreat
cawing in the clouds

the day goes like that
arrivals, departures
I go to the couch
and think how nice this is
how it’s how life should be
looking ahead I think
the whole house needs cleaning
all the walls need painting
I decide instead
to get outside

it’s cold
which is good
breathing deeply
my eyes catch the eyes
of a small girl walking by
with her mother
she looks at me
eyes and eyes
she looks at me and smiles