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.