Monday, March 31, 2008

Writing poetry may be hazardous to your health

It's been proven, according to this Guardian article by Marc Abrahams (courtesy of the Normalcy Count Department who shared the good news to her fellow 30:30ers).

It's one of the reasons I was so freakin' happy to finish my 11th round in 30:30 yesterday.

Am taking a break now for a week or two because (1) primal energies need to focus on selecting poems for the April TPM, (2) Press 1 requires all four eyes to get its ass into HTML, (3) I have video games to play [stated in the tone of I have mouths to feed] and (4) it seems a good idea to live longer... if only for the simple pleasure of watching my face — in the mirror, in the toilet bowl, in the dentist's eyes — turn green with drink.

Recent publications:

• Just got word that Carousel 22 is "f-i-n-a-l-l-y competed [sic] and in-hand and will be appearing in stores starting this week!" Hee. Couldn't resist quoting that. I get all ticklish when it comes to typos and grammatical errors as long as they aren't mine.

Anyway, this is one stunning print journal — with no-holds-barred full-color cover and pages. The poetry, fiction and artwork are delish, too. Very eclectic tastes — they seem to like mainstream and experimental in equal parts.

• My poem, twenty-four : sawdust is now up in Sidebrow. There's only one smiley for that —>

Recently received:

PN Review 180. Yep, in a moment of weakness, I actually subscribed. It's a UK-based print journal, A4-sized and flat-spined, which publishes poetry, reports, reviews and articles in more or less equal portions. I was particularly bowled over by Robin Maconie's article, The Way of Music: Aural Training for the Internet Generation. It's ticklish, weird, thought-provoking and... well, it's got a dog in it. Here's an excerpt:
From Book Two: Walking the Dog

A dog barks: Woof! Woof!

When a dog barks, there are usually two parts, a Bow and a Wow. A repeated action such as this is a basic indicator that the source of the sound is a living creature and not a random natural event. Here is a proverb: 'A tree falls only once.' Some natural sounds repeat, like a bouncing table-tennis ball or a dripping faucet. In that event we hear the sounds not as a random event, but as an organised process.

If you can hear it, then you can hear.

The world of sound is a picture in constant renewal. Sounds come and go. Our eyes tell us that the environment stays in place and is always complete; but for those who cannot see, the real world is a constantly-changing mosaic of momentary impressions. The more dependent we are on the sense of hearing, the more appreciative we are of what we hear.

In a bark, a dog exists.

In identifying a disturbance as a dog barking, the listener in effect 'calls the dog into existence'. The notion of a revealed reality is the underlying meaning of the bible creation myth.

• Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. I'm still in the initial pages — it arrived last Saturday — but I'm loving it. I rather wish I'd read it before my parents passed away because, apart from teaching one how to understand death, it also gives advice on how to help/accompany the dying in the passage between life and death.

Thank you for this book, Liz!!

And more importantly [hee], thanks to the box, I've finally kicked away my old-sneakers-faux-nightstand. Due to the weight of my books, they've gotten all squashed and unbalanced, and it was more difficult by the night to keep everything from sliding to the filthy floor. I was seriously thinking about putting some back to their shelves. However, with Liz's box, I now get to clear the matrimonial bed and pile up to 30 books nightly in the box in less than a minute — which means less time spent watching the husband at the corner of my eyes roll his eyes and make lurid signs that have to do with one foot tapping.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Hope everyone has a great time today. Because of an outbreak of flu in my sis-in-law's family and a morbid fear of contagion from the husband's parents, we've decided to skip celebrating Easter this year. Instead we'll be spending some time with friends in the country for Easterette (the day after Easter) — which is still a holiday... probably based on the Italian tradition to stuff oneself so much with food and drink that one requires a whole day-after to recover from one's excesses.

After catching up on my sleeping yesterday, my right tonsil has returned to its normal size. Like any day laborer, it goes on strike when it works overtime. It particularly favors acting up during festivities — to provoke the worst bother possible. Nasty bit of goods.

A couple of Easter quizzes:

What does your
Chocolate Easter Bunny Eating Habits
say about you?

My Easter Bunny Personality

You are friendly, optimistic, and kind hearted.
You don't have a harsh word for anyone. [You reserve that for your body parts.]

You cheerfully live your life with little complaining or suffering.
You are creative and artistic. You live in your own inner world.

You live your life freely, without guilt or restrictions.
And you would never feel bad about eating too much chocolate!

And where there's the Easter Bunny, there's also Liquor Sunday!!

I am Whiskey
You're a tough drinker, and you take it like a man.
That means no girly drinks for you - even if you are a girl.
You prefer a cold, hard drink at the end of the day.
Every day, in fact. And make that a few.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Recent whatabouts of A — for the curious

Apart from doing a schizophrenic marathon called 30:30 and my TPM/Press 1 duties, I am also guilty of such oddities:

• The mercy-killing (through viral infection) and eventual resuscitation of my laptop. Because it got rid of programs and files I wanted to get rid off but didn't have the heart to remove.

• On my way to yoga class, I allowed myself to be picked up by a strange man, and later, gave him a full-body massage. Teehee.

It's actually a lot less interesting than that, but it's way too ticklish not to write about in public. The guy's actually someone I know (not biblically, sorry to disappoint) in yoga class. The ayurveda massage was part of the yoga class — which involved a lot of kicking on the fella's arms and legs, who took it lying down. All very boring. Of course, afterwards I made it a point to ask how it was for him.

• Have discovered a new use for old sneakers: When positioned correctly, they act as a second night stand and can safely balance up to 20 poetry books. When performed every night for three years in order to allow bed space for a spouse, it may actually lead to enlightenment.

Yoganidrasana, or the Yogic Sleep Pose (see pic below) seems to be part of my default setup. The keyword no doubt is sleep. Program anything with the word "sleep" in it and my body will see it to completion.

• Revised a collection of 70 poems in one day. Tentative title moved from Lean Season to Seeing Birds in Church is a Kind of Adieu. Probably the result of reading too much spam mail that say I've got length problems.

• Took pictures of myself as requested by the 34th Parallel editors. Nothing topless — sorry to disappoint again. And even if, you'd still need a magnifying lens to see what I've got... only on a cloudy day, too — or you'd end up with stuff that look like dead ants.

Recent acceptances:

• Was thrilled to receive an acceptance note from Envoi that they're accepting three poems: Fallen, Glass and Hush for Issue 150.

This is one of the most gorgeous print journals I've ever had the pleasure of stroking... uh, I meant reading. If you non-aliens out there send stuff now, we can be in the same issue together — the response time remains quick and easy.
Submission sent: 4 March 2008
Reply date: 11 March 2008
• Also received an acceptance form letter from the 34th Parallel editors who are interested in publishing my poem, Time with Frieda in their next issue.
Submission sent: 12 February 2008
Reply date: 16 March 2008

My multiple selves are currently on their hands and knees for

Ilya Kaminsky's Dancing in Odessa. This is such a gorgeous collection — one of those books that make you stare at the ceiling all night thinking if there's a god, there's my god.

Here's an excerpt from his longish poem, Praise:
A woman asks at night for a story with a happy ending.
I have none. A refugee,

I go home and become a ghost
searching houses I lived in. They say —

the father of my father of his father of his father was a prince
who married a Jewish girl

against the Church's will and his father's will and
the father of this father.
Losing all,

eager to lose: the estate, ships,
hiding this ring (his wedding ring), a ring

my father handed to my brother, then took. Handed,
then took, hastily. In a family album

we sit like the mannequins
of school children

whose destruction,
like a lecture is postponed.

Then my mother begins to dance, re-arranging
this dream. Her love

is difficult; loving her is simple as putting raspberries
in my mouth.

On my brother's head: not a single
gray hair, he is singing to his twelve-month-old son.

And my father is singing
to his six-year-old silence.

This is how we live on earth, a flock of sparrows.
The darkness, a magician, finds quarters

behind our ears. We don't know what life is,
who makes it, the reality is thick

with longing. We put it up to our lips
and drink.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

7 Going to Day 8

Only 21 more poems/days to go through.

I'd be having more fun in 30:30 if it weren't for the need to come up with a poem daily — which is getting more morbid by the hour. I've always had an unhealthy interest in death, but something tells me I'm way past that. Catching up on Pushing Daisies every day doesn't help either. It tickles really well though.

Anyway, the whole girl wagon is there: Annie, Brenda, Liz, Sarah, Sharon... and guess what the squid inked in: Mary-Nicole!! Depending on the kind of nuts you eat and/or the quality of your weed, we're either the Seven Virtues or the Seven Deadly Sins. Maybe 50/50 of the Seven-Year-Itch.

Recent and not-so-recent publications:

• My copy of Painted Bride Quarterly has arrived!! I'm a pirate! I'm a pirate! More on that in a while.

• Am so bunny-thrilled to announce that the ticklish story Valerie and I wrote ages ago, I have names for the ways they twitch their ears: The story of one man's flight from his wife's rabbits is now up in the March 2008 issue of Admit2.

This is actually a kind of continuation of our first published story in Edifice Wrecked, Nature Hates a Vacuum. Have gotten Richard-obsessed after that.

• Ooops, kept forgetting to note that I've got three poems in the January 2008 issue of SUB-LIT: So What If You Love Your Migraine Like a Second Coming, Eve and A Night in the Suburbs (a Richard poem).

Various links which might or might not be of interest:

• I was asked to help spread the word about KUDOS, a newsletter run by Carole Baldock (editor of Orbis) which publishes "current UK writing competitions plus an increasing number of Overseas contests. Also includes news items and information about markets, outlets and opportunities for all kinds of writing."

• If you're having trouble sticking to 30 poems for 30 days, APW Project may be your thing! The deal here is to write 100 poems within 365 days — you're allowed to play hooky for a few days. After that... I think it's in John's default setup to let you have it. Hee.

• If you like writing prompts, you might like to subscribe to the Red Morning Press newsletter. This free newsletter is bi-weekly and states — get this: "If this newsletter doesn't inspire you to become a better writer after twelve months, then I'll send you a free copy of any book from Red Morning Press' catalog."

• And a small note about Blueline forum — because that's where I've declared an all-out war against spammers. Registration is possible only by means of a code word requested from either me or HA. It's a really neat phpBB mod... and 100% spam proof. I'm feeling particularly smug about the secret handshake. Here's to me and HA not receiving any more fake user registrations.

Currently enjoying:

• Jonah Winter's Amnesia. First discovered his mind-blowing poetry in Tarpaulin Sky and just love it. Here's a favorite excerpt from his longish poem, Postcards from Paradise:
I remember being alone
like an ocean, each day
a wave, greenish-gray,
each night black with fish
and flotsam
                      from other people's lives.
• Jayne Pupek's Forms of Intercession. Have actually read this before it went to the press, but getting the real thing and re-reading it still gives me the thrills. It's a spanking good debut collection of poetry. There's a wonderful review by LouAnn Shepard Muhm at Jayne's blog.

• Andrea Barrett's Ship Fever. This is an amazing short story collection — I just love how she weaves science and history into her stories. It's pure magic.

A special thank-you-you-made-my-week goes out to Valerie for sending me this surprise package.

• Anne Carson's Decreation. I'm a huge fan of anything she writes and would probably kill termites for her fridge notes, so I'm heavily biased already. Here's one of the essays included in the book: How Women Like Sappho, Marguerite Porete, and Simone Weil Tell God.

Painted Bride Quarterly — the Print Annual 4 — is getting dirtier by the minute in my hands. The black-and-white photo cover is a riot... the front shows a classroom half-filled with bored-looking old geezers. I turned it around, and saw [gaaawk!] a totally naked woman at the back, apparently in the same room with them because it's got one old geezer there, too. It's a picture that simply babbles a million interpretations. Teehee.

Anyway, it's a HUGE book. Really thick. As in, if I throw it between the eyes of a burglar — ski-mask or none — it's the kind of book that kills on contact. That's the kind of book it is.

Here's a delicious excerpt from the Pirate issue (#78) — The Poem that Fell from Grace with the Sea by Donald Dunbar:
... the salt wind anchors
in my throat and the peach lights
above the sidewalks moan as we leave the bar,
hum, I mean, like the day janitor
tomorrow who'll mop the drinks
you've spilled; who'll nuzzle the lipstick
you've smeared all over the payphone.